Australian senator: 2017 'very unhappy year for gambling industry'

Australian senator: 2017 'very unhappy year for gambling industry'

December 21, 2016 9:37 AM
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A powerful Australian senator, Nick Xenophon, says 2017 will be a "very unhappy year for the gambling industry” promising a Senate inquiry for retail giant Woolworths and “pokie” machine makers.

In Australia and New Zealand most video slot machines are known as “pokies”. The games all have some type of bonus feature with free spins being the most common. An option is usually available in which you can double up your wins.

Media reports say Xenophon is demanding an explanation for their opposition to limiting to pokie machine bets to $1. The pokie machine manufacturing industry claims limiting bets would be time-consuming, ineffective, and cost it more than $3 billion. Machines can currently handle up to $10 on each play.

Fairfax Media reported on Monday that Australian supermarket giant Coles had sought to introduce bet limits on its 3,069 machines but five major machine manufacturers - Aristocrat, IGT, Konami, SG Gaming and Ainsworth Game Technology – refused to do so.

Nearly $200 million a year is lost on Coles’ machines, anti-pokie MP Andrew Wilkie said. Current gambling law stops anyone but manufacturers from altering how gambling machines work, thus the manufacturers can easily prevent Coles' request. 

Coles' rival Woolworths, through a joint venture, is the biggest pokie machine operator in Australia. It has more than 12,000 machines in 300-plus hotels. Woolworths says $1 bet limits are not currently in their business plan.