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Whittlesea residents losing $300k a day on pokies

Tue, Aug 13, 12:23pm by Staff Writer

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.

Darebin takes RSL to Supreme Court

Darebin Council in Victoria is taking its battle against more poker machines in the Shire to the Supreme Court.

The Age reported in May that Darebin Council Mayor Susan Rennie was extremely disappointed in a decision made by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that supported Darebin RSL Club’s bid for an extra 15 pokies machines despite opposition from the community.

The council voted to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court at a confidential meeting on Monday night.

Cr Rennie said people lost $82 million to gambling on the pokies in the City of Darebin every year and it was a major driver of household debt and family breakdown and contributed to family violence.

“Darebin will not stand idly by and accept this,” she said.

The VCAT decision said the tribunal was satisfied there would be “no net detriment to the wellbeing of the community of Darebin” as a result of the extra 15 pokie machines, which would bring the total number of machines at the club to 80.

However, it refused to allow the club to operate for an extra 12 hours a week – with five of those hours being after 1am – saying it was “well established” that operating hours after 1am were a risk for problem gambling.

Problem gambler highlights flaws in self exclusion

Stuart McDonald, a problem gambler who lives 400 metres from Darebin RSL, told the tribunal he had been banned from entering the club under the voluntary self-exclusion program.

However this had “proved pointless’ as he had repeatedly been allowed to enter and gamble.

“When my wife and I brought this up with venue management, they answered that banning me is impossible as they are too busy and have too many excluded gamblers on their books,” he told VCAT.

The tribunal noted this was “an unfortunate incident and one that should not occur”.

It said harm minimisation techniques were “good in theory but difficult in practice to implement.”

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