Monday 15. February, 2016

Hume Leaders Want More Pokies Money Invested Back into the Community

Hume councillors are concerned by the amount of money being lost on pokies in the area that could better be spent on community needs.

The Victorian government initiated a Review of Gaming Machine Arrangements in August 2015 and in its submission to the review, Hume councillors request that profits from pokies be distributed in such a way that they go towards disadvantaged communities. The review aims to consider the allocation of gaming machines.

In the 2014-15 financial year, gambling losses in the Hume area reached as much as $104 million, an increase of 3.1 percent from the previous year. All clubs with pokies must contribute a minimum of 8.33 percent back to the community and hotels with pokies must contribute at least that amount directly to the Victorian Community Support Fund.

However, the council’s submission to the review revealed that as much as 65 percent of financial benefits from clubs were being invested back into the community through venue operating costs, including employment costs, management fees, rate payments, utility bills and maintenance expenses. A mere 11.8 percent were directed to sponsorships and donations.

“We are talking about an area of high disadvantage,” stated Councillor Casey Nunn. “We are not getting our fair amount of money back.”

Councillors are arguing for a more transparent benefit system with Councillor Adem Atmaca claiming that the current system makes it possible for venues to create an environment where it is comfortable for gamblers to stay longer, rather than providing support for those who need it.

Minister Jane Garrett of Gaming and Liquor Regulation said that the requirements of the community benefit statements would be discussed within the review with submissions being accepted up until February 26.

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