Media Release: Victorian Councils launch giant mobile billboard to stop pokies harm

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Cr Jackie Fristacky posing in front of the mobile billboard

The largest ever contingent of Victorian Councils are banding together to ensure pokies reform is on the agenda for the coming November election, unveiling a giant mobile billboard to highlight the urgent need for change.

A record 19 Councils,  including Yarra, have joined the Alliance for Gambling Reform and are taking their message to the streets to say Enough is Enough. 

With the state election only two months away the Alliance for Gambling Reform will tomorrow (Wednesday, September 19) unveil a large billboard to traverse the streets of Melbourne highlighting the horrific toll that pokies addiction is having on local communities.

The billboard, bearing the message “Victorian pokies losses = $3.2 billion a year. Enough!” and “Victorian Councils unite to stop pokies harm” will visit the council offices of Alliance members before travelling past some of the local venues that have the largest pokies losses.

Last year, Yarra residents lost over $85,000 to pokies every day and this needs to end.  

With the state election just two months away, Alliance Director and spokesman, Reverend Tim Costello welcomed the unprecedented commitment of Victoria’s local government leaders to addressing Australia’s world record levels of gambling harm.

“Councils are at the coal face of gambling harm and are not conflicted by the tax revenue or intimidated by an industry which has exerted way too much power over our major political parties, leaving Australia with the largest per capita gambling losses in the world,” Reverend Costello said.

“The Alliance represents these councils and is saying that 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 $3.2 billion a year (including $450m at Crown) is ripped from the community through addictive poker machines in suburban pubs and clubs.”

“Victorian councils have every reason to feel concerned with the latest release of data from Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation showing that Victoria is headed for record pokies losses in 2018. 

“It’s a terrible start to the new financial year with figures for the month of July showing that Victorians lost $239.037 million, the second worst monthly loss ever after the $250 million lost in December 2008 which was driven by the Rudd Government stimulus payments.”

“This means that in the first seven months of 2018, Victorian pokies losses have jumped by $81.13 million and are on track to set both a calendar record in 2018 and, if the trend continues, a financial year record in 2018-19.”

The mobile billboard will be launched from the headquarters of the Victorian Local Governance Association on Wednesday 19 September and spread its message through the Melbourne CBD and circle the parliamentary precinct during the final week of sittings before the election. It will also visit Crown Casino, the offices of various politicians including the Gaming Minister, Treasurer, Premier and Shadow Treasurer. 

“We are sending a united message to all politicians that we need pokies reforms as part of the next state election,” Reverend Costello said. 

“We are united, we are growing in size and we will not go away. Enough is Enough. We need to stop the harm that pokies are having on our communities,” he said.

The Alliance campaign for the 2018-19 year is being supported by a record number of Victorian councils including Banyule, Brimbank, Darebin, Glen Eira, Frankston, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Kingston, Knox, Maribyrnong, Melbourne, Mitchell, Monash, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Moreland, Whittlesea, Wyndham and Yarra. 

For further information

Stephen Mayne: stephen@agr.org.au or 0412 106 241

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