Tuesday 31. May, 2016

Whittlesea Taskforce Calls for Pokies Cut

A taskforce that was set up in Whittlesea in Victoria in order to combat problem gambling in its municipality, has recommended that the number of poker machines allowed in all venues, but particularly shopping centres, is reduced.

The Whittlesea Interagency Taskforce on Gambling has submitted a report to the government’s review of gaming machine arrangements, stating that the limit of 105 electronic gaming machines per venue needs to be reduced.

Current planning laws in the municipality of Whittlesea do not permit gaming machines in shopping centres; however past legislation allowed them and the task force believe this is compounding the level of problem gambling in the area. The government is currently reviewing gaming machine arrangements around the state and has requested the community’s input on the issue.

“The highest loss venues in Whittlesea are all in shopping centres,” read the submission.

“Whittlesea does not have a particularly high [electronic gaming machine] density, but experiences very high levels of harm because so many machines are in shopping centres, particularly those at Epping Plaza Hotel, the Plough Hotel and the Bundoora Hotel, all of which are in the top ten high-loss venues in Victoria.”

According to data from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, there are 684 gaming machines in Whittlesea which bring in annual revenue of more than $100 million. In 2014-15, each machine brought in an average of $148,600 in revenue, with the highest amount coming from the Epping Plaza Hotel where punters lost $21.13 million on their 100 gaming machines.

In addition to limiting the number of gaming machines available in each venue, the task force called on the government not to grant any new gaming licenses when the current licenses expire in 2022.

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