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Data reinforces councils' call for gambling reforms

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Recent data released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation reinforces councils’ calls for greater protection of communities where people can least afford to lose.

MAV President Cr Mary Lalios said the data showed Victorians spent an alarming $2.61 billion on the pokies in 2016/17.

“That is more than $7 million per day out of Victorians’ pockets and into the pokies,” Cr Lalios said.

“Research shows that electronic gaming machines are concentrated in areas of social and economic disadvantage. These are vulnerable communities that can least afford to carry the burden.

“Many councils have prioritised pokie-related gambling harm in their municipal health and wellbeing plans, but they currently have limited control and influence on licensing decisions.

“Councils form the level of government closest to the community and they should be able to represent their communities’ interests when it comes to the number and placement of electronic gaming machines in their local areas.”

Cr Lalios said this was just one of many changes that the MAV was calling for on behalf of councils, to minimise the harm of electronic gaming machines on communities.

These changes include:

  • The elimination of design features that increase the likelihood of addiction, such as losses disguised as wins
  • $1 maximum bet limits on all licensed electronic gaming machines to limit losses per person to $120 per hour
  • Placing the onus of social and economic impact tests on applicants, rather than a ‘detriment test’ on objectors.

“Research suggests that electronic gaming machines are implicated in around 85 per cent of gambling problems yet the current regulatory framework provides little protection to communities,” Cr Lalios said.

“These are simple and inexpensive changes to implement. With all we now know about the harm caused by pokies, particularly on vulnerable communities, it is time for the State and Federal governments to take action.

“The MAV will continue to advocate on behalf of Victorian councils to improve the regulatory system around electronic gaming machines and to minimise the harm they cause in communities.”

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Contact: Cr Mary Lalios on 0447 189 409 or MAV Communications on 9667 5547.

Gaming expenditure by local government area is available on the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s website.