Pokies fight


THE Greens have backed a multi-council campaign to reduce the harm wreaked by poker machines – while the Labor and Liberal parties appear to be sitting on their hands.
Greater Dandenong is among 35 councils to sign up to the Enough Pokies campaign.
It has also written to state election candidates and MPs in the region to reduce pokies numbers and impose $1 bet limits.
Neither of the main parties had much to say on pokie reforms.
At a launch of a problem gamblers service last month, Greater Dandenong councillor Roz Blades cited some staggering statistics – the municipality yielded the state’s third highest pokie losses, $110 million in 2013-14.
Over the past 20 years, about $2.5 billion had been blown on poker machines in the economically-disadvantaged region.
That equates to about $300,000 a day and $50,000 for every household during the period.
“The issue of problem gambling is very real for this community,” she said.
Opposition gaming spokesman and Lyndhurst MP Martin Pakula told the Journal in a statement: “I’d be more than happy to sit down with them and discuss their agenda.”
A spokesman for Gaming Minister Edward O’Donohue did not respond to the Journal’s inquiries.
Greens gaming spokeswoman Colleen Hartland said her party agreed with the council’s suggestions including banning EFTPOS in pokies venues, more funding for gambler help services and more time for councils to consider gaming applications.
She said the ALP and Liberal parties voted down a Greens bill for $1 maximum bets on poker machines, which would slow a problem gambler’s losses from up to $700 an hour to $120.
“Governments make too much money out of pokies. Labor and Liberal really want that revenue,” she said.
The council will host a free Enough Pokies in Vulnerable Communities forum at Dandenong Civic Centre formal meeting room, level two, on Wednesday, 6pm.
Guest speakers include Monash University gambling expert Dr Charles Livingstone.
Book at communityconsultaion@cgd.vic.gov.au.