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Minister defends sitting on pokie report

"Vilma" (2018-07-01)

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A NSW government minister has defended sitting on a report which exposed the harm caused by poker machines and gambling.

Gaming Minister Paul Toole released the Gambling Harm Minimisation report in October, almost two years after it was completed by the University of Sydney's gambling treatment and research clinic.

The report found pokie players were over-represented when it came to gamblers seeking treatment and were also more likely to have experienced a mental health issue.

"(Pokie) players have elevated Problem Gambling Severity Index scores compared to other products, and report higher frequencies of health-related harms," the report says.

Mr Toole, in a statement released with the study in October, said the information would "provide an up-to-date understanding of gambling participation and behaviour including the type and level of gambling harm occurring in different areas of the community".

But emails and briefing notes obtained via freedom of information laws show the report's author was "frustrated" by the extensive delay, Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday.

A Liquor and Gaming NSW official, in May 2016, reportedly emailed then gaming minister and deputy premier Troy Grant to recommend the release of the report but had not heard back by October that year.

But Mr Toole defended the timing of the release.

"The report made a number of legislative, regulatory and policy recommendations which needed be to clarified and further considered by Liquor & Gaming NSW," he said in a statement to AAP on Wednesday.

"It was important the government gave due regard to these issues as part of an extensive process of evaluation."

Mr Toole said the government needed to draft a formal response and have the report and response considered by cabinet before its release.

"Once this had all occurred, the report was released without delay," he said.

Among the report's recommendations was the banning of the "losses disguised as wins" feature in which a pokie machine issues positive noises and visuals even if a user has only won back a portion of their bet while losing money overall.

Shonica Guy, a 14-year gambling addict, took on Crown Casino and poker machine maker Aristocrat Technologies in a landmark trial centred around the losses disguised as wins issue earlier this year.

A ruling is yet to be handed down.



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