Thu, Sep 12, 8:37am by Staff Writer
City of Whittlesea councillors in Victoria were united at last Tuesday’s council meeting on calls for gaming machine reform throughout the municipality.
Councillor Caz Monteleone called for council to declare its community is facing a poker machine emergency and call for the state government to urgently undertake pokies reform.
It also called for council to write to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation to request a community forum be established to tackle the epidemic.
Cr Kris Pavlidis amended the motion, including continued advocacy to the state government, raising ongoing awareness and education sessions, continued partnership with local organisations and continued advocacy for language specific resources for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Cr Monteleone said council knew pokies were a big problem in the City of Whittlesea, according to North Central Review.
“I ask that we write to the state government and tell them the hard truth that we don’t want this to continue,” he said.
“This is a real issue and it’s as bad as family violence or any other issue facing our community.
“Last year alone, losses increased by $1.4 million. We’re not going to wait five years to review our strategy – we need to send a message to the government now.”
Cr Pavlidis said a council social impact study revealed people were taking their own lives due to financial problems caused by gambling addiction.
“This scourge is not going away and needs proactive, educated responses. We need to look for opportunities to raise awareness of the harmful impacts,” she said.
“It’s not about prohibition, it’s about regulating access to gaming machines.”
— Laura Michell (@_lauramichell_) August 13, 2019
The City of Whittlesea has recorded losses of $303,715 per day on its pokies in the past financial year.
Mirage News reports the figures, released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, which reveal that the 10 venues in Whittlesea recorded a total of $110.9 million in losses, which is more than $1.4 million more than the horrific losses of the previous year.
The amount of money lost to pokies machines in Whittlesea is the sixth highest of all local government areas in the state and is equivalent to $655 for every adult.
The City of Whittlesea has four of the top 10 commercial venues for pokies losses in Victoria.
Mayor Lawrie Cox said council was advocating for pokies reform and for fewer poker machines, reduced operating hours and con-free machines.
“It’s critical that pokie addiction is recognised as a public health issue and that urgent reforms are introduced to address this,” Cr Cox said.
“We know poker machines cause harm; in fact they are designed to cause addiction.”
“Addiction to pokies is linked to high levels of mortgage stress, family violence, crime and family breakdown.”
“We know that our community has one of the highest rates of family violence in the state and we also know that 14 per cent of our households are experiencing mortgage stress and 32 per cent are experiencing rental stress.”
“This is a community that cannot afford to lose more than $110 million to poker machines.”
Overall, Victorians lost $2.698 billion on poker machines in the 2018-19 financial year, the second highest amount of losses since pokies were introduced to the state.
This amount is a $3.5 million increase on last year’s losses, and only slightly lower than the all-time record of $2.707 billion in losses recorded in 2008-09.
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