Wilkie backs pokie venue ''duty of care'' plan 

Gambling venues could be sued if they failed their ''duty of care'' to prevent punters becoming addicts, under a plan being pursued by a quartet of MPs.

And a punters winnings could be forfeited if he or she gambled despite opting to exclude themselves from venues.

The MPs — independents Andrew Wilkie, Nick Xenophon, Greens' Richard Di Natale and the DLP's John Madigan — say staff are not intervening even when gambling addiction is clear.

They say a parliamentary inquiry into problem gambling also heard that self-exclusion — where punters can have themselves barred from a venue — is largely a fiction.

Under a legislated duty of care,  they say if a person exhibits problem gambling behaviour consistently without any response from the venue, action could be taken against it.

''We believe this would result in a change of behaviour from venues,'' say the MPs, who sat on the inquiry with eight others but are making these recommendations separately.

Currently many venues offer self-exclusion where addicts can ask the venue to ban them from the premises.

This morning Mr Wilkie released a report by the committee backing attempts to extend venue self-exclusion to across states.

And they said if punters breached such exclusions - and venues failed to prevent them from gambling - then their winnings should be forfeited.

Additionally, the MPs are calling on government to investigate ways of introducing a national cap on pokies.

The group say that if venues were held more responsible they would be more likely to help problem gamblers.

A 2010 Productivity Commission report into gambling stopped short of pushing statutory duty of care, finding that it would be hard to define and be slow and costly.

Clubs Australia spokesman Jeremy Bath said a more effective measure would be to compel gambling operators to extend venue bans on a person when asked to by a concerned family member.

''Common sense says the person who is best able to detect a gambling problem is the person who knows you best, and that is always going to be a close family member,'' Mr Bath said.

Other recommendations made by the inquiry include:

     examine ways financial institutions can assist in helping addicts stop gambling.

     fund a national problem gamblers hotline

     Making problem gambling a national research priority goal.

Current research at Swinburne University is trying to define symptons of problem gambling for the purpose of improving intervention strategies.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you think this plan would work? 

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