Brimbank mayor Margaret Giudice says the Victorian government’s decision to extended licences for poker machine operators has condemned Brimbank to decades of losses it can ill afford.
Earlier this month, legislation to extend licences for poker machine operators from 10 to 20 years passed through Parliament with the support of both major parties.
Cr Giudice slammed the decision.
“Council is extremely disappointed that the Victorian government has extended licences for pokies operators,” she said. “This decision condemns Brimbank to another 20 years of gambling losses that our community simply cannot afford.”
Losses from poker machines is more
prevalent in Brimbank than any other municipality in the state. Data released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation showed losses in Brimbank were $134 million for the 2016-17 financial year.
“Every year for the past decade, Brimbank has had the highest pokies losses of any local government area in Victoria – with $1.4 billion lost on Brimbank pokies since 2007,” Cr Giudice said.
“We know that pokies cause untold social and financial harm in our community, to problem gamblers and their families, as well as posing a risk to occasional gamblers.
“We must act to turn back the tide.”
A cap on the number of poker machines in Brimbank was introduced recently to help quell the problem, however Cr Giudice said it doesn’t go far enough.
“The cap on the number of gaming machines comes too late for Brimbank – with 939 electronic gaming machines, Brimbank is already at capacity.”
Alliance for Gambling Reform director and spokesman Tim Costello echoed Cr Giudice’s sentiments.
“We asked for an inquiry, we asked for delay, we asked for amendments, we said don’t rush this through before Christmas and the big parties ended up ignoring all of this and signing up for more state-sponsored pokies abuse of tens of thousands of victims,” Mr Costello said.
“It was nothing short of shameful.”