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Problem-gambling "alert" system launched in SA pubs and clubs

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An automated system designed to alert gaming staff when poker machine users are at risk has been rolled out in South Australian pubs and clubs.

The new automated risk monitoring system, hooked up to hotel and club poker machines statewide, alerts venue staff when patrons have reached a certain threshold of play.

The Independent Gambling Authority, which approved the implementation of the system, says staff are alerted when gamblers spend too long or too much money at individual machines. The authority says they are unable to give specifics on the threshold levels, because to do so could allow problem gamblers to circumvent the system.

The automated system was officially rolled out in hotels and clubs last week following an update to the central monitoring system used by the Independent Gaming Corporation to monitor poker machine technology.

Australian Hotels Association SA branch general manager Ian Horne, who supported the system’s implementation, told InDaily it was a “very simple” and “very cost-effective” tool to complement staff observation of potential problem gamblers.

“This gives them a technological solution to help them with their observation monitoring – it acts more as a trigger for staff members,” Horne said.

“At the end of the day monitoring rests very heavily on human contact because the automated risk monitoring system is simply a tool to help with human contact and intervention.”

The introduction of the system in hotels and clubs comes seven months before its legislated commencement date stipulated in the Gaming Machines Act.

Adelaide Casino, which operates outside the Independent Gambling Authority, introduced its own automated risk monitoring system in 2014.

Horne said the system helps bring pubs and clubs up to date with gambling monitoring technology and staff were being trained on how to use it.

“The casino has their own system but it’s one building with five doors whereas we’re across the state so it was always harder to implement a system like this,” he said.

“Now, we can have the system operating in the smallest of venues right through to the bigger hotels and it doesn’t come at an additional cost.”

He said South Australia was the first state to introduce a legislated automated risk monitoring system in hotels and clubs.

“I suspect a lot of other states will wake up to it now and look to South Australia to develop their own models,” Horne said.

Executive general manager of the Gambling Help Service at Relationships Australia, Virginia Leeuwenburg, said the system rollout was a “step in the right direction.”

“The strategy is worthwhile but the proviso is that gambling staff are trained and supported to make meaningful referrals to help people experiencing problems,” she said.

“Any step to reduce gambling harm would be worth consideration.”

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