Thinking further afield, consider the problem of gambling. The Productivity Commission estimates that the social costs of gambling are in the billions and that controlling them would be well worth any cost of revenue and taxes. But how do you do it? It is very hard to monitor individual gambling habits and choices. But what if information technology can assist here?
Around the world various solutions are being trialled. Smart cards can be used to put pre-set spending limits on gamblers. However, research in Nova Scotia Canada has show that this is only good in so far as gamblers can’t just get another card.
Alternatively, a simple USB key with a finger print sensor can register gamblers and send the information back to a centralised system. They can then monitor behaviour and put in various steps to stop people from getting carried away. For example, individuals could set daily or weekly spending limits. Exceed this and the system knows and puts a block on the individual concerned. Such innovations would be well worth trialling in the lead up to the Victorian government’s poker machine tender.
Harry Clarke argues, and I agree, that we need to look to State governments to get off the revenue juice from this. What is more, inject a bit of competition between providers at the same time and maybe the withdrawl symptoms on those governments wont be so great.