As reported by this paper last week, the state government is looking at a proposal that will see the number of gaming machines increased in the city of Wyndham due to a loophole that does not include Point Cook, Tarneit, Truganina and Little River under the current regional cap.

Star Weekly’s online website asked the question: Do we need more pokies machines in Wyndham? The resounding response as you would expect was “no”.

A total of $97.7 million was spent in gaming venues last year in Wyndham. Wow, that is a lot of jars of vegemite, loaves of bread and bunches of bananas – and I am not referring to the symbols on the gaming machines.

Gaming machines are not evil. You can choose to not play them, but the effect that this form of gambling has on society is devastating. Some people cannot help themselves. It is an addiction, like drugs and alcohol. These days we do acknowledge that and support systems are in place, but it appears to be a losing battle, especially in this case where a bureaucratic loophole is going to allow more machines.

Why do we need more machines? Are people lined up waiting for their chance to slip a 20 into the one-armed bandits?

I have not been on a machine for a number of years, but every venue I go to where there are machines seems to accommodate the gambling crowd OK. No lines of disgruntled customers with a handful of notes or a cup of coins (do they still do that?).

I understand as new venues open the owners will want machines to be on a level playing field with their competition, but that is not the community’s problem. Picking up the pieces after a family is kicked out of their home and has no money for food is. We need to address the problem with gambling, not just pokies machines. Our everyday sports have been swallowed up by the talk of odds and favourites and points spreads. While I agree we don’t need more poker machines in Wyndham, I would like to see the bigger picture discussed and addressed with as much vigour by the entire community. ■