Mayors unite for gambling reform

Wednesday 25 July 2018


Yarra’s Acting Mayor, Cr Misha Coleman joined with 4 other mayors and The Alliance for Gambling Reform on the steps of State Parliament in a united call for the next Victorian Government to embrace meaningful gambling reform.

Yarra is one of 18 leadership councils working with The Alliance for Gambling Reform campaigning for legislative change to reduce gambling harm in Victoria.

The 5 mayors (from Yarra, Whittlesea, Wyndham, Darebin and Moreland) joined with Alliance spokesman and director Tim Costello, who welcomed the unprecedented commitment of local government leaders to the vital community cause of addressing Australia’s world record levels of gambling harm.

“A staggering $31m was lost on pokies across 8 venues in the city of Yarra in 2016/17. Pokies are having a devastating impact on our community, and it’s often people who are already vulnerable who a worst affected,” said Cr Coleman.

“We’re particularly concerned that 7 of the 8 poker machine venues in Yarra are pubs. We know that people tend to lose more money when playing in pubs compared to clubs. Pubs make about $130,000 per poker machine per year, while clubs make around $80,000. Community members are losing up to $6m per year at individual venues.”

“We’re joining the Alliance for Gambling Reform in calling on the state government to take strong action to reform the poker machine industry and protect people from the harms of gambling. This includes a raft of measures such as introducing $1 maximum bets, a clamp down on losses disguised as wins and reducing venue opening hours.”

“As a council we are at the coalface of gambling harm. Our communities are suffering and it’s only getting worse. That’s why we’re standing together to make sure pokies reform is a key state election issue.”

“Yarra Council is taking action too. We’re the first council in Australia to investigate the rates payable by the 8 poker machine venues in our municipality, exploring the issue of whether the gambling industry is failing to pay its fair share of rates,” Cr Coleman said.

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesperson, Tim Costello:

“I sincerely welcome the commitment of Acting Mayor, Cr Misha Coleman to the cause of fixing this blight on Australian society,” Tim Costello, spokesperson for the Alliance for Gambling Reform said.

“Successive Victorian Governments have been intimidated by a ruthless industry and become reliant on the easy money of gambling taxes but Cr Coleman and the City of Yarra are saying this has got to stop,” Mr Costello said.

“Yarra City Council is joining with other councils to say ‘enough is enough’ – as the local government sector unites like never before to demand action from our political leaders.”

“Yarra is saying the next Victorian Parliament must show some spine and heart and address this issue to prevent the needless suicides, family violence, bankruptcy and fraud which flows when $2.7 billion a year is ripped from the community through addictive poker machines in suburban pubs and clubs.”

What councils are doing:

City of Yarra recently passed a trail-blazing resolution (see p13 of these minutes from July 3 council meeting) commissioning a report into the valuations and rates payable by its 8 poker machine venues, opening a new front exploring the issue of whether the gambling industry is failing to pay its fair share of rates.

City of Whittlesea recently launched its “Pokies Play Whittlesea” campaign and has erected 31 billboards across its municipality amidst a suite of measures designed to raise awareness ahead of the November 24 election.

City of Moreland had a recent Supreme Court victory over the Glenroy RSL, preventing it from installing 11 new machines in an area already suffering above average rates gambling harm.

City of Darebin recently proposed a motion to the MAV State Council calling on Vision Super to investigate divesting its shares in Woolworths if Woolworths doesn’t dramatically change its business to no longer be the world’s biggest suburban poker machine operator which takes $670 million a year from Victorian gamblers alone.

City of Wyndham recently approved this tough new gambling policy which is one of the strongest in Australia in ensuring council in way supports or promotes the gambling industry.

Get the stats:

See Yarra: $31m in losses in 8 venues in 2016-17.

See Whittlesea: $107m in losses in 10 venues in 2016-17.

See Wyndham: $97.7 million in losses in 13 venues in 2016-17.

See Darebin: $81m in losses in 12 venues in 2016-17.

See Moreland: $61.6m in losses in 12 venues in 2016-17.

 Summary of Alliance policy asks:

• $1 maximum bets as per Productivity Commission recommendation

• Reduction of trading hours – current maximum 20 hours

• Changes to machine design eliminating losses disguised as wins

• Cut maximum daily cash withdrawal from $500 to $200

• Introduce a stronger duty of care for venues with mandatory staff intervention when customers are displaying signs of gambling harm




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