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Senator Nick Xenophon

Senator Nick Xenophon speaks on the steps of Parliament House on May 25, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.

Nick Xenophon, a federal Senator in Australia, has announced the war on slot machines or “pokies,” as they are known in Australia. The Senator announced a big investigation for 2017 which should provide answers why slots manufacturers are against the proposal to reduce the maximum bet from the current AU$10 per spin to AU$1.

Harsh Words for the Gambling Industry

Senator Xenophon, together with his partners in the endeavor, Tim Costello, and Andrew Wilkie, unleashed all wrath on the gambling industry. He branded the pokies manufacturers and operators, branding them as “malevolent bastards.”

Pokies are among the most popular forms of entertainment in Australia, but they also cause a lot of problems related to gambling addiction and everything that comes with it. The question Nick Xenophon is asking is why the manufacturers are opposed to reducing the maximum bet, which should at least reduce the percentage of gambling addicts.

Apart from the manufacturers, the investigation will also look into Woolworths Limited, a huge chain of supermarkets and the biggest operator of pokies in the country. The Senator’s proposal is based on the 2010 Productivity Commission report, which recommended lowering the maximum bet to AU$1 per spin. However, current laws don’t allow for anyone other than the game suppliers to do this.

Strong Opposition at a Prospect of $2+ Billion Loss

Naturally, Xenophon’s proposal is facing a harsh opposition from the pokies manufacturers. Allegedly, earlier attempts by certain supermarket chains to lower the bets on their slot machines were prevented by the country’s major manufacturers. The Senator finds this to be outrageous and emphasizes that every operator should be allowed to lower the limits as much as they like, without any legal or other obstacles.

That’s why Xenophon and his team will be pushing for amendments to current laws to allow the operators to reduce the maximum betting limits to AU$1. However, things will certainly not go over smoothly as huge money is at stake.

Experts estimate that reducing the limit from the current AU$10 ($7.26) could mean a $2.18 billion loss for the pokies industry. This is a huge hit and not the one the manufacturers and operators are likely to accept without a fight.

Whether Xenophon’s proposals will find a keen ear remains to be seen. There is plenty of evidence to support his claims relating to problem gambling, but money is always a huge factor in the free economy. Sadly, many similar laws around the globe failed simply because potential financial blow was too big to take.

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