Increasing the value of notes Queensland’s poker machines can accept is a bad move that will escalate problem gambling, critics say.
For the past 12 years, electronic gaming machines in the state’s pubs, clubs and casinos were restricted to accept nothing larger than $20 bills.
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has approved a change to allow $50 and $100 notes.
The move, lobbied by major casino owner Echo Entertainment, was condemned by charities and counselling services, which say it will have a negative effect on problem gamblers.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin says the government’s own discussion paper on lifting the restriction identified that limiting the size of notes to $20 prevented gamblers from making “large spontaneous bets”.
A state government discussion paper in February also said the note-size limit was reviewed in 2003, Mr Mulherin said.
“That review found the policy was working and had succeeded in ‘adjusting the behaviour of people who were at risk of developing a gambling problem’.”
He accused the government of giving in to the gambling industry.
“The slipshod process for deciding on new casino licences is proof of that,” he said.
“Even before any community consultation has been undertaken, the government has decided new licences will be available just because groups like the James Packer-led Crown casinos want one.”
Premier Campbell Newman says the poker machine changes will have little effect on problem gamblers.
“This is a change about the notes you can use – no changes to the limit,” he said.
“There’s a $100 limit, which puts a real lid in terms of problem gamblers.”
Mr Newman says the limit in NSW is $10,000.
“We’ve got some tight controls here and we haven’t slackened them off.”
The lifting of the ban on $50 and $100 notes was among recommendations by a government-appointed expert panel that reviewed the state’s gambling laws and policies.
Controversial proposals being considered include doubling the maximum of each poker machine bet to $10 and allowing gaming at pubs and clubs before 10am.
The government is expected to release its full response next year.