Manningham Council has joined councils from across Victoria, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Salvation Army in the “Enough Pokies” campaign seeking government action to better protect vulnerable communities from inappropriate placement of poker machines.
Manningham Mayor, Cr Jim Grivokostopoulos said that protecting vulnerable communities from the inappropriate placement of pokies is an important objective for local government.
“Every day in Manningham, $152,541 is lost to gambling in pokies.”
“That equates to $126,828 per poker machine each year in our municipality and an overall loss of $55.7 million in Manningham in 2013/14.”
“We have to be extremely careful about where those machines are placed, given the significant harm they can cause to the surrounding community and this campaign will support Council’s Gambling Policy directions.”
“In recent years the gaming machine operators appears to have been attempting to grow their gaming revenues by moving more of their machines into the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the state. They have been assisted by an inadequate regulatory framework,” he said.
Cr Grivokostopoulos said of the 154 decisions by Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation (VCLGR) since July 2008, an astonishing 93 per cent have been decided in favour of the gaming operator.
“This is despite strong council and community objections in more than half of these applications. We need the next Victorian government to provide clear and simple guidance to the VCLGR on how it must apply the ‘no net detriment’ in the public interest rather than in the interests of the big gaming operators.”
Municipal Association of Victoria President Bill McArthur said that local councils had demonstrated a deep concern about the issue.
“The MAV State Council overwhelmingly voted to support this call for change. It is clear to us, by the number of councils who have expressed their concern for the welfare of their communities, that inappropriate placement of pokies is an area the state government needs to address,” Cr McArthur said.
In support of the Enough Pokies campaign, the MAV has sought protection for vulnerable communities from pokies in its Call to Parties document submitted to all major political parties ahead of the state election.