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Dandenong reviewing pokies regulations

Mon, Apr 1, 1:31pm by Staff Writer

The Greater Dandenong Council in Victoria is set to lobby for the end of free drunks and other gambler inducements as part of stricter regulations in pokies venues.

On March 25, the majority of councillors voted to make a submission to a state government review of its responsible gambling code of conduct.

The council’s suggested reforms will include banning staff from ploys to increase players’ gambling, such as gifts and inducements like free drinks other than water.

The council will also press for mandatory breaks and maximum daily time limits for gamblers, according to Star Community News.

Staff would also be required to monitor and assist people showing signs of “gambling harm” by banning them form the venue for 24 hours.

“Council is a huge supporter of this review and the need for reform in this space,” Mayor Roz Blades said.

“Continuing to advocate on this issue is one way we can continue to publically support vulnerable members of our community.”

Councillor Matthew Kirwan told of a pokie venue’s notes describing “coffees, drink shouts and toasties” being used to retain gamblers.

“They also suggested staff were being rewarded with vouchers when their venues hit betting targets,” Cr Kirwan said.

“Staff were urged to do whatever you have to do to keep them in the room. This example alone shows the need for a stronger code.”

Councillor Sean O’Reilly said the council’s position was “not ideological”.

“We’re seeking practical and reasonable increased speed limits on money coming out of problem gamblers’ pockets that could be better spent in family budgets.”

“If there’s any community that should be putting it forward, it is our community – that is most affected and afflicted by problem gambling.”

The council’s residents are one of the hardest hit by poker machine losses, pouring in $121 million in 2017-18.

The Greater Dandenong area loses the most per adult (nearly $1000 a year each) on poker machines.

It has the second-highest number of machines in greater Melbourne at 958 and is one of the region’s most socio-economically disadvantaged.

According to a council report, for every dollar lost to poker machines at local clubs in 2017-18, only three cents on average is returned to the community as donations, gifts and sponsorships, veterans support and volunteering expenses.

Brimbank wants to keep pokies for sports club survival

While one Melbourne community is trying to clean up its poker machines, another is desperate for their survival.

The Star Weekly is reporting that more than 1,300 people have signed petitions calling on the Brimbank council in Melbourne to allow two local sporting clubs to continue to operate poker machines on council land.

St Albans Sports Club and Green Gully Soccer Club both want assurances their venues will not be affected by the council’s new electronic gaming machines policy now being developed.

Both petitions requested, “that council provides assurances that the new Brimbank City Council EGM Gaming Policy continues to allow the St Albans Sports Club and Green Gully Soccer Club Ltd to operate EGMs on Brimbank City Council Land, thus allowing these clubs to continue and extend their community benefit.”

The petition at Green Gully was signed by 375 people, while St Albans Sports Club attracted 969 petitioners.

Sports chairman Garry Keenan said it was vital that they be allowed to continue to operate their current number of EGMs.

“We are very much a community club and do a lot for the community … our major concern is not being in a position to do all that community work,” Mr Keenan said.

“We sponsor a number of clubs, look after the ground, run very low-cost bingo, provide a free courtesy bus and that will disappear if we can’t operate as we currently do.” He said.

“Those pokie machines will then go to a hotel that won’t be doing all that for the community.”

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