NSW – The government in Australia’s New South Wales says it will consider a ban on a slot machine feature known as “losses disguised as wins”. That is the celebratory music and graphics which are automatically played by pokie machines when a player wins money. The feature is criticised and blamed by many researchers for deliberately fuelling gambling addiction.
NSW Government on Pokies Feature
According to reliable reports, the NSW government has said that it would look into banning the ‘losses disguised as wins ’feature on pokie machines, as part of a broader look at features which may need to be prohibited on electronic gaming.
However, the consideration could be influenced by an on-going controversy that the NSW government allegedly sat on a gambling research report submitted to them calling for the same ban – for nearly two years.
Former Gaming Minister Fails to Release Report
Former deputy premier and gaming minister, Troy Grant allegedly failed to release the research report despite follow-ups from its lead author, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, a gambling researcher at the University of Sydney.
A briefing note sent in May 2016 expressed the importance of the information contained in the report regarding the popular gaming industry in Australia. It also showed concern that delaying its release would reduce its relevance.
“The research provides new and important information about the harms related to gambling products,” said the note. “This will be valuable to all gambling stakeholders in Australia. It will ensure that any new initiatives are informed by the latest evidence.”
The report was only released in October this year. The NSW government claims that the delay was just normal procedure.
Current Minister Responds
The spokesperson of the current Gaming Minister Paul Toole, is the one who attested that the delay was just a natural part of the release process. He says: “There was…a need to draft a formal governmental response document and for both the report and response document to be considered by cabinet. Once this had all occurred, the report was released without delay,” said the spokesperson.
Although the NSW government promised to review the pokie machine feature ban, no date-of-action was set.