Today in Parliament, when I asked the Health Minister what he would do to minimise the addictive features of pokies, he could not come up with one single plan. Instead he is more than comfortable with his government position of encouraging addiction and then pretending to care for the person after they are addicted.
The government is, in effect, legalising and purveying a highly addictive drug with practically no commitment to addressing or minimising the consequences of that addiction.
Pokies act just like other addictive drugs which the Government purports to be tough on. That makes it a health issue, above all else.
What the government is doing with the Gaming Control Amendment Bill is akin to allowing cocaine to be dispensed at pubs and clubs.
Here is the text of my question:
Minister, poker machines are designed to be highly addictive.
They have been described by experts as the “crack cocaine” of gambling. Scientists have demonstrated that the machines are designed to increase the production of dopamine which elicits a physical response from players when playing the machines.
Is the Minister aware that the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM-5, includes gambling disorder as a behavioural addiction?
DSM-5 suggests that gambling disorder is similar to substance-related disorders such as drug, nicotine and alcohol addictions in relation to clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, physiology and treatment.
As Health Minister, what plans do you have to minimise the addictive features of poker machines? Have you sought advice from Public Health Officers on how this can best be achieved and, if so, will you please inform the House of that advice?