Victoria’s Gaming Minister outlines government’s gambling research priorities

Victoria’s new Minister for Gaming, Hon. Michael O'Brien, MP, told a recent gathering of gambling industry specialists that the Coalition Government wants research that provides quality evidence.

“This government is determined to promote and commission research that not just adds to our understanding of gambling, and in particular problem gambling, but directly informs the strategic direction for policy,” he said.

During his speech at a Melbourne regional meeting of the 2011 International Think Tank on Gambling Research, Policy and Practice, the Minister spoke about the soon-to-be-established Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, to which the government has committed $150 million over four years.

He said: “While governments have a conflict of interest in being a major recipient of gambling taxation and a regulator of gambling activitis, this foundation will be independent of government.”

The foundation’s mandate is to reduce the incidence and severity of problem gambling in Victoria. To do so it will commission research, develop and implement communication and education strategies and work with established organisations to deliver counselling and treatment services.

The Minister added that the Department of Justice will continue with its policy work, an integral part of which will be the commissioning of research and evaluation that addresses key knowledge gaps in the evidence base.

He said that the government is also committed to the Victorian Gambling Study, which currently involves over 5,000 participants who have been followed over a two-year period.

Mr O’Brien also spoke of the government’s policy to remove ATMs from all gaming venues in 2012, ensuring pre-commitment mechanisms will be available on every gaming machine in the state as soon as possible.

“Pre-commitment works best when people want to modify their behaviour and this means that a voluntary system will work where a compulsory system just won’t,” he said.

The recent invitation-only regional meeting brought together global experts in problem gambling policy, services and research and others collaborators interested in advancing the understanding of gambling in public health context.

This regional meeting precedes a larger 2012 New Zealand Think Tank, a forum to address globally significant issues and developments in problem gambling research, policy and services.