Tasmania: Reducing the Impact of Problem Gambling

New laws come into effect today which will strengthen the gaming exclusions regime for self excluded gamblers.

The Treasurer, Michael Aird, said the new laws were part of a broader package of measures introduced last year to address problem gambling in Tasmania.

“Today’s measures were developed in response to the findings of the first Social and Economic Impact Study, following consultation with the Tasmanian Gaming Commission and key community and industry groups,” Mr Aird said.

“The Tasmanian Gambling Exclusion Scheme will be strengthened by simplifying the types of exclusions available and introducing a minimum period of six months before exclusions can be revoked.

“Currently a self-exclusion notice can be revoked by the person at any time. The new six month minimum requirement will support a person’s decision not to gamble during the early stages of their exclusion where the urge to gamble may be high.

“In addition, there will be a three year maximum period for all exclusions. After three years the exclusion will expire at the time of expiration people will have to re-apply.

“This will help to make sure that information and records, including photos, are kept up to date over time.”

Secretary to Cabinet, Cassy O’Connor welcomed the self-exclusion guidelines, which complement the $3.5 million in funding already being spent this financial year for harm minimisation measures.

“If we are to achieve healthy, happy and financially sustainable Tasmanian families, we need to minimise the harm caused by problem gambling,” Ms O’Connor said.

“I am determined to work within government and with the community to move promptly and decisively on this.

“We are committed to progressing reform while continuing to fund prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, research and community information on the risks of gambling.”

A full list of these measures is available at www.gaming.tas.gov.au.

Coffs Manager Stole To Fuel Pokies Addiction.

A female fed her gambling bug nicking more than $20,000 while working as the manager of an Australia Post outlet, a court has heard. Eve Marie Elworthy has appeared for sentence in the Coffs Harbour Local Court and will find out her fate on 18 stealing charges when she reappears in December.

The 46-year-old committed the offences while working as the manager of the Warriwillah Post Office, adjoining a small convenience store, between Bathurst and Orange back in in 2006 – 2007. Police prosecutors proved over the course of 6 months she made multiple copies of money orders paid to the post office, pocketing the proceeds. On one occasion she served a customer, collecting his payment of $581 towards an energy bill. Investigations found she stamped the bill as paid but never processed the payment!

Only after the customer received an outstanding bill from Country Energy weeks later was the matter taken up with Australia Post. Elworthy was discovered when Australia Post auditors checked the financial records of the business in January 2007. A sum of $11,754 was found to be missing. In a tape conversation, Elworthy admitted to stealing money and gambling the proceeds at local clubs. The court was told the licensee of the store was required to repay the outstanding amount. In June 2007 the licensee again contacted auditors on the suspicion Elworthy was again stealing money. Another audit was undertaken and a further $8953 was found to be missing. Again in a taped conversation, Elworthy made admissions to making out multiple money orders and keeping the money to pay for gambling debts and bills associated with the general store. She was charged by police with embezzling $7250 between November 24, 2006, and May 4, 2007.

In March 2008, Elworthy attended the Taree Police Station to answer to the charges. She has had her case moved to Coffs Harbour since relocating to the area. Elworthy is due to reappear on charges of dishonestly intend to cause a loss to Australia Post on December 8. Granted bail, she has been required to undergo gambling counselling. We wish her well with her challanges.