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'Suicide watch' marshals could soon patrol pokie venues

Joy Van Duinen's son Gary (pictured) took his life following a 13-hour poker machine binge at Dee Why RSL, 18km north-east of Sydney, in 2018

A mother who lost her son to gambling addiction is trying to get all pokies venues to introduce gaming marshals to protect people from going too far.

Joy Van Duinen's son Gary took his life following a 13-hour poker machine binge at Dee Why RSL, 18km north-east of Sydney, in 2018.

The club was fined $200,000 and forced to employ a full-time gambling marshal, who would monitor gamblers.

The club was also ordered to allow for third-party applications from family and friends to have the addicted person barred from the premises.

But Ms Van Duinen believes enforcement on one club is not enough, and such rules should be extended to every pokies venue in NSW.

She, along with Troy Stolz, Club NSW whistleblower and Kickin' The Punt founder Benjamin Hamilton, are working to make that happen and started Why Just Dee Why. 

'The whole idea is that they (the marshals) would be trained to spot people who sit at a machine for hours putting endless stacks of money through,' Ms Van Duinen told Daily Mail Australia.

'They they could ask "Are you OK?" and "Can we help you?" in an attempt to break the cycle.'

She said some people won't want help immediately, but they will be aware help is at hand and it might make them think more about their actions.

'I know there are stickers on the machine asking the same thing, but they had no effect on Gary,' she said.

'We tried to get him banned as well, but there was no third-party rule.' 

She said the gaming marshal would have to be there the whole time the pokies area is open and could discreetly speak with apparent problem gamblers.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie is backing the move by Why Just Dee Why.

'The modest, additional protections for machines being introduced at the Dee Why RSL must be rolled out right across Australia,' he said in a statement on Saturday.

The club (pictured) was fined $200,000 and forced to employ a full-time gambling marshal, who would monitor gamblers in July, 2020

'We can't have one level of protections for certain Australians, and lesser protections for everyone else.

'Right now venue workers can blame everybody else for failing to protect gamblers, but if venues are required to have a full-time gambling marshal the buck will finally stop somewhere.

'People suffering from an addiction often struggle to stop going to venues, so it's essential loved-ones are allowed to step in and help a family member to exclude themselves.'

Victor Dominello, Minister for Customer Service, said what happened to Gary is a reminder of the tragic consequences of gambling addition.

'I welcome the jaminan bpkb mobil cepat bunga rendah recent ILGA decision, including the requirements placed on the club to implement additional harm minimisation measures such as dedicated Responsible Conduct of Gambling marshals,' Mr Dominello said.

'This and other arrangements will be considered as part of the NSW Government's review of gaming machine-related harm minimisation measures.'

A Clubs NSW spokesman said they have supported the 'concept' of gambling marshals for years. 

Ms Van Duinen (pictured) started Why Just Dee Why to get the same restrictions placed in clubs across the state

'Just as we implemented Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) Marshalls and CovidSAFE Ambassadors, ClubsNSW has supported the concept of Responsible Gambling Ambassadors for some years now,' the spokesman said in a statement.

'Discussions with both the regulator and the government have been progressing well and we look forward to saying more soon.'

The push for gambling marshals comes as data released in May showed Australians were spending more money on online gambling than ever before while casinos and clubs were shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Australia's spending on online gambling was up nearly 150 per cent between April 26 and May 3 compared to a normal week, data from economic advisors AlphaBeta and analytics company illion showed.

AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton pinned the boost on eased restrictions and the one-off $750 coronavirus support payment hitting bank accounts.

Since April, online gambling spending has fluctuated but stayed above 30 per cent of normal spending each week.

However, gadai bpkb cepat bunga rendah Reverend Tim Costello said there has been a 'silver lining' to the pandemic - with pokies venues shut because of health restrictions, some gamblers have had to go cold turkey.

Online gambling only accounted for $1.2billion of the $24billion Australians lost to gambling each year.

Pokies accounted for $14 billion of gambling losses.

For confidential support call the Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14 or Mensline 1300 789 978.