Sunday 6. March, 2016

Victorian Councils Band Together For Poker Machine Reforms

Local councils in Victoria are starting to band together with the Alliance for Gambling Reform as the impact of problem gambling is becoming more apparent in the state. Moreland and Whittlesea councils have joined the alliance in calling on the government to take action against pokies.

Each year the Victorian government collects more than $1 billion in taxes from poker machines from the hundreds of millions of dollars lost by punters in the state. The City of Whittlesea is one of the biggest losers to poker machines in Victoria with its 660 machines in ten venues. At the Epping Plaza Hotel alone, punters lost $21.1 million last year, the most lost in any venue in the state.

“More than $275,000 a day is ripped from people’s pockets,” protested Mayor Stevan Kozmevski. “No responsible government authority should think such losses are acceptable.”

The alliance is planning a national campaign that they hope will encourage other local councils to be more vocal about the poker machine problem. They will target Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett and will pressure government to ensure that machines are made safer with lower betting limits and modified designs that will make them less addictive.

Spokespeople for the alliance and mayors on the councils are complaining that the local governments face all the blame for the problems caused by poker machines while collecting no revenue and that the councils need more power in terms of where poker machines can be placed to alleviate many of the problems caused by gambling, such as family violence and increased crime.

Ms Garrett said that the government recognises the issues of problem gambling and has dedicated $150 million to promoting responsible gambling and addressing problem gambling. They have also announced a Review of Gaming Machine Arrangements.

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