This week, the South Australian State Parliament will be considering a package of possible gambling reforms. If approved, these proposals would have a major impact on punters throughout the state. However, the reforms have their fair share of critics.

In this article, we’ll look at the reforms, as well as their possible pros and cons. If you’re a gaming enthusiast from South Australia, this is definitely a story worth following.

South Australia Gambling Proposals

The following are the proposals being brought before the state for consideration:

  • Pokies would be able to accept banknotes instead of coins.
  • Instead of reducing poker machines in the state, a maximum limit would be imposed.
  • Gaming machines would be accessible on Good Friday and Christmas Day. At the moment, gambling is restricted on these holidays.
  • Clubs would be able to perform certain actions with less difficulty. Examples include club mergers and the transfer of gambling machines (such as video poker) from one location to another.
  • Single or multiple venues would be able to indefinitely ban customers designated as problem gamblers. Any money won by banned players would be seized and donated to the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund. Unclaimed winning would also be diverted to this fund.

Those in Favour of Reforms

The biggest proponent of these reforms appears to be Attorney General Vickie Chapman. At the very least, she’s the most outspoken on the subject.

According to Chapman, the proposals will go a long way towards curbing problem gambling in the state. “Through these changes,” she said, “we’re looking to maintain support for our vibrant hospitality sector while ensuring there’s help available to those who are at risk.”

As for the banknote proposal, Chapman explained that it would be similar to policies adopted by other Aussie states. New Zealand also allows banknotes to be used instead of coins.

Numerous lawmakers have spoken out in favour of reducing the bureaucracy faced by clubs. This will allow them to merge more easily, which should serve to reduce their overall number.

Those Opposed to Reforms

Tim Costello of the Alliance for Gambling Reform gives an interview.

Of course, not everyone is in favour of the proposals. Leading the opposition, as usual, is Tim Costello of the Alliance for Gambling Reform. He went so far as to call the banknote proposal “appalling.”

He then took it up a notch and drew parallels between American gun laws and Aussie gambling laws. “It’s why going from coin-operated to cash is really like going from the ball-and-musket rifle in America – the Second Amendment right to carry a gun – to the semiautomatic and claiming the same right to carry a gun. That technology change makes no sense for liberty in America; here what South Australia is doing is just going backwards.”

Another dissenting voice belongs to Best MLC Frank Pangallo. He believes the banknote reform measure to be “thoughtless, callous and heartless.” He’s confident that it will “absolutely accelerate problem gambling.”

Fellow SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros has also voiced her opposition. She referred to the coin-only policy as the “single most effective harm minimization measure” currently in place. She also accused members of the government of ignoring gambling advocates and experts.

A Possible Ulterior Motive?

According to journalists, there might be ulterior motives for the reforms. As you might expect, these motives involve money.

Based on records from the SA Electoral Commission, the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has made a number of political donations. In 2019 alone, they have donated more than $6,000 to the Labor Party and over $42,000 to the Liberal Party.

The AHA has given their blessing to the proposals, citing that it would help hotels, clubs, and casinos. Since profits for members are also profits for the AHA, some have started to wonder about those political donations.