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Australian Party Promises to Drop Pokie Blackout

5 March 2003

AUSTRALIA – As reported by the Australian: "THE NSW Opposition has promised to drop the planned six-hour blackout on poker machine playing in the state, aborting one of the most far-reaching measures in the country to control problem gambling.

"National Party leader George Souris has told clubs and hotels the Coalition will repeal the legislation to enforce the six-hour ban if it wins government on March 22.

"The bans were introduced by the Carr Labor Government late last year after intensive consultation with welfare groups.

"…NSW has more than 100,000 poker machines and the bulk of Australia's estimated 330,000 problem gamblers.

"…The anti-gambling lobby and churches attacked the policy as irresponsible.

"…A member of the federal Coalition Government's Advisory Council on Gambling, Baptist minister Tim Costello, `'condemned' the policy as `completely irresponsible'.

"…University of Sydney psychologist Alex Blasczynski backed the Opposition move, saying there was no firm research to show a blackout stopped problem gambling during the early hours."

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