Wednesday 21. October, 2015

Ballarat Community Health Pushing for Gaming Reforms

Ballarat Community Health is urging the national government to reform its licensing system for pokies in order to help tackle problem gambling in the area. They have joined a national alliance calling for legislative reform.

There are more poker machines per head of population in Australia than anywhere else in the world and problem gambling is an issue that needs to be addressed in many locations. In Ballarat, during the last financial year, gamblers lost more than $53 million. In 2014, Ballarat Community Health and Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership conducted an investigation of the incidence of online gambling in adolescents, as well as awareness of and attitudes to problem gambling among adolescents in the area.

Robyn Reeves, a representative from Ballarat Community Health, suggested there are a number of different ways to begin to tackle the problem. She suggested the option of reducing opening hours of gambling venues, as well as being more discriminative about where poker machines can be located.

“Maybe some changes to licensing regulations about where machines are actually placed in the community, because often they’re quite cynically placed in areas where there’s the highest likelihood in producing problem gambling,” she commented.

In Australia, where gambling is legal and regulated, the government collects revenue from gambling and in Victoria the revenue that the government collects from gambling amounts to 12 percent of their total revenue per annum.

“So, it’s incredibly difficult for state governments and politicians to take the tough choices that are needed to change when they actually are such a source of income,” Reeves acknowledged.

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