Australian Gambling Researcher Lobbies for Mandatory Preset Loss Limits

Posted on: September 7, 2022, 07:13h. 

Last updated on: September 7, 2022, 02:58h.

Long-time Australian gambling researcher Charles Livingstone suggests all slot machines come with mandatory loss limits.

Charles Livingstone
Charles Livingstone, a gambling researcher and professor at Australia’s Monash University, in a school photo. Livingstone is lobbying for governments to implement loss limits on slot machines in the country. (Image: Monash University)

Slot machines are common in Australia. They can be found in casinos, bars, restaurants, and other gathering places throughout the country. Australia’s ABC News reports over 40K slots in Queensland alone. New South Wales reportedly has around 95K, and Victoria has another 28,800.

Previous studies have asserted that 18% of the world’s slots are in the country, even though it only represents 0.3% of the global population.

Livingstone asserts that requiring preset loss limits at the slots in bars and restaurants will protect consumers and reduce gambling harm. The associate professor at Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine is trying to convince the province of Queensland to raise the bar and institute a mandatory loss-limit requirement.

Using Established Loss Limits

For the program to work, gamblers would have to establish how much they would be willing to lose each time they played a machine. Livingstone asserts that this would be easy to implement and a conclusive way to reduce gambling harm.

Preset loss limits are already becoming a reality in Queensland, according to the Office of Liquor and Gaming (OLGR). The initiative is currently just a voluntary program at certain gaming properties. Under Livingstone’s proposal, this voluntary program would become a mandatory requirement. This would also allow the state to learn, in real-time, how much gamblers and spending and losing.

Livingstone: ‘Not Enough Focus on Gambling Harm’

Livingstone says the government is currently not doing enough to address potential gambling harm. He emphasizes that there are efforts to introduce more stringent controls in online gambling, but not for the land-based alternative. He accuses regulators across Australia of having “largely failed” when targeting responsible gambling about slots.

Livingstone adds that “almost every survey globally” indicates that slot machines represent the most harmful form of gambling.

However, there is often a disconnect between the definition of gambling harm and gambling loss. Stanton Peele, a US psychologist and author, once wrote, “It’s not correct to say that most gamblers are addicted. It is fair to say that many gamblers lose more than they can afford.”

Despite being home to the majority of the world’s slot machines, gambling addiction in Australia is extremely low. Most studies say it affects only around 1% of the population.

The figure is about the same in the US, where slot machines, on average, account for around 70% of a casino’s revenue. Moreover, Aussies can plunk money on a slot virtually anywhere, while US gamblers have more limited access.