The Gaming Minister, Mr John Pandazopoulos, said the proposal was one of many ideas being considered by the gaming round table of industry and community representatives.
It is based on a South Australian scheme, yet to be passed by Parliament, where a problem gambling order could allow money to be deducted from gamblers wages or direct them to return money and property to family members.
It could also enable family members to seek intervention orders banning problem gamblers from venues.
The Rev Tim Costello, of the Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce, said he gave “tentative support” to the proposals as they offered the families of problem gamblers greater rights.
Mr Costello said docking the wages of problem gamblers could give families some protection, while also being a “reality check” for the gamblers.
But he said there was a danger the proposals could divert attention from the need for government reform of the gambling industry.
“If theres reform of the industry there will be far fewer problems gamblers,” Mr Costello.
“The spin rates of poker machines in Victoria are seven times faster than those in Great Britain.”
While confirming the proposal to dock gamblers pay was under consideration, Mr Pandazopoulos said it contained serious legal and civil liberties issues.
The taskforce was considering many other proposals, including support for community education campaigns.
The Government would wait on the reports of the round table and the Advocate for Responsible Gambling before making any decision.
Mr Pandazopoulos defended the States gaming record, after national statistics last week showed Victorians lost an average of $1180 a year on gaming in 2001-2002.
The report, by the Tasmanian Gaming Commission, also showed the Victorian Government reaped $1.4 billion from gambling revenue.
Mr Pandazopoulos said newer Poker Online statistics showed gaming had declined in Victoria for the first time in 13 years by almost |9 per cent.
A DRUG TO STOP GAMBLING?
MINNEAPOLIS – Gambling is a big business in America, earning the gaming industry nearly $51 billion in net revenue each year. It’s more attractive to those with less money. The Illinois lottery found people who made less than $10,000 a year gamble six-times more often than those who earn more than $50,000 a year. Like most addictions, once you start, it’s hard to stop. Now, a drug treatment could get gamblers back on their feet.
Pulsing music. Flashing lights. And the elusive jackpots. That’s what keeps gamblers coming back.
“I saw these people that were acting like zombies in front of these slot machines, just totally mesmerized by the video interactivity of those slot machines, winning enough to keep them coming back, and that was what was happening to me,” Jeff, a recovering gambler who doesn’t want to be identified, tells Ivanhoe.
Jeff was gambling five times a week — losing about $400 each time. That’s $2,000 a week. He says, “I’d drive 100 miles out of my way to go to a casino, spend the night, come back at three in the morning, totally drained, and have business meetings the next morning.”
Psychiatrist Suck Won Kim, M.D., treats people like Jeff. He studies the connection between cravings and behavior. “Traditionally, when people receive treatments, they may be able to refrain their behaviors, but they still had to live with their craving,” says Dr. Kim, of University of Minnesota Medical School. He says naltrexone, a drug already approved to treat alcoholics, stops cravings and therefore stops the gambling urges.
Jeff says the drug changed his life. “It’s helped my relationship with my wife, because I’m not lying to her anymore, covering things up or making excuses and draining our bank account. So, it’s changed it in many, many ways.” And that’s something he can bet on.
Experts say there is a 20-times higher suicide rate among pathological gamblers than among the general population. Dr. Kim’s study is expected to last about two and a half years. He says the drug can cause liver problems if mixed with other drugs, such as over-the-counter painkillers. If you’re interested in participating, call the University of Minnesota Hospital at (612) 273-9805.