Senator Steve Fielding wants to shrink pokie jackpots - Monday 23rd of June 2008

POKIES prizes would be limited to a maximum of $1000 under a plan to combat problem gambling in Australia.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding will this week introduce a Bill into Parliament to restrict prizes and limit the amount punters can bet on poker machines.

Customers would have to put credit on to a "smartcard" in order to play the pokies.

The smartcards would ensure punters could only bet a maximum of $1000 a fortnight.

Free spins and multiple line betting would be banned, and there would have to be five-second delay between spins.

"Governments in Australia have ignored problem gamblers for too long," Senator Fielding said yesterday.

"There is evidence that the harm of poker machines can be greatly reduced.

"Thats why Family First is taking action to put commonsense limits on how poker machines operate."

Victorians spend about $2.5 billion a year on the states 30,000 pokies.

The State Government earns about $1 billion in revenue from the machines.

Premier John Brumby is planning to ban automatic teller machines from venues and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is considering a national ban.

A Senate inquiry is examining a Family First plan to phase out pokies from pubs and clubs and restrict the machines to casinos and racetracks.

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