Sep 302010
 September 30, 2010  Non-U.S.

The Australian government seems to be investing a lot of time and energy into figuring out what to do about problem gamblers as a quick glance at Gambling Research Australia and an article on pre-commitment systems indicate.

It’s one thing to try to help people who may have a problem or addiction. It’s another to legislate and to invade privacy in the name of “helping.” And so I was a bit surprised to see this article in the Sydney Morning Herald:

The federal government is considering the use of fingerprint technology in clubs to help track problem pokie players.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the system, suggested by Senator Nick Xenophon, is just one option to enforce mandatory pre-commitment limits.


Ms Gillard has promised to take action on problem gambling by 2014 in a deal struck with the anti-pokies campaigner, independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Mr Wilkie and Senator Xenophon have been appointed to a parliamentary committee to work out the best course.

The options include smartcards to police daily limits for individuals and a USB stick bearing a gambler’s fingerprints, also with a daily limit.

The clubs sector is concerned the fingerprint option may give rise to a government-controlled database of pokie players.

Senator Xenophon has dismissed that suggestion, describing it as “a beat-up even boxer Mike Tyson would be proud of”.

“There will not be a fingerprint database,” he said in a statement, adding a player’s pre-commitment to gambling limits was not about invading privacy.

“I would never support any such scheme, and no scheme has ever been proposed by the federal government.”

Read more in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sometimes, a proposal is not about invading privacy, but invading privacy can be an unintended consequence. Do you think that the government is going too far in trying to address what it sees as a problem?

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