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Mitchell Shire wants pokies warning messages

Thu, Apr 25, 8:49am by Staff Writer

Mitchell Shire Council is calling on the state government to introduce warning signs on all poker machines in the state.

The North Central Review is reporting the council is calling for the change in a further stance against poker machines.

Deputy mayor David Atkinson moved the motion, which was seconded by Cr Annie Goble, and passed unanimously.

The stand comes after council made a submission to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation opposing the application for an additional 20 machines at Hogan’s Hotel in Wallan.

Cr Atkinson said pokies were the most addictive form of gambling and there was a fundamental issue with the product.

“Electronic gaming machines are designed to keep you playing and programmed to lose money. Stronger regulation is needed to make our community healthier,” he said.

“There are a lot of people, often the ones who can’t afford it, that get addicted to these machines. These people need to have in front of their face that the machines are designed to make them lose.”

Cr Atkinson likened the messages to those used on retail tobacco packaging in Australia.

“These warnings provide a clear message about harmful health consequences of tobacco products,” he said.

“Mandating public health product warning messages stating, ‘this machine is designed to keep you playing and programmed for you to lose money’, clearly visible on each machine to anyone who is using would ensure those using the machines are provided with evidence-based warning message.”

Cr Goble applauded the motion.

“Sadly, I believe the power of poker machine operators is too great and this outcome is highly unlikely,” she said.

“I think it will be fought against and we could possibly compromise with signs in venues or bathrooms,” she said.

Council to oppose 20 more poker machines in Victoria

Mitchell Shire Council in Victoria made a submission opposing Hogan Hotel’s application for an extra 20 poker machines at its Wallan premises, the North Central Review reported in March.

Mitchell Shire is home to more than 40,000 residents and includes towns such as Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour and Wallan.

The special council meeting was held to assess whether or not the proposal was in line with its Electronic Gaming and Planning Policy.

The Electronic Gaming Policy states that: “electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are a part of Mitchell Shire’s recreation and entertainment offering; however, for a significant few EGMs can cause serious financial, personal and social impacts.”

The policy also states that council notes EGMs are associated with a high prevalence of problem gambling and that EGMs can be the source of significant adverse social and economic consequences for problem gamblers.

The decision to make a submission comes after a special council meeting last week where all councillors in attendance voted unanimously to submit a Social and Economic Impact Assessment to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

The assessment, undertaken by SGS Economics and Planning, details the social and economic impacts on the Mitchell Shire Council community if 20 extra poker machines are added.

Councillors Rob Eldridge, Rhonda Sanderson and Fiona Stevens raised their concerns while referring to the detrimental statistics and figures in the assessment.

SGS Economics and Planning’s report estimated a $6.9 million social and economic loss to the Shire community if 20 more machines were added.


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