The number of poker machines in Wyndham could rise by up to 15 per cent under proposed state government gambling reforms.
The government announced a raft of reforms to its Gaming Machine Arrangements Bill last month, including the introduction of a partial regional cap for Wyndham.
The partial cap would limit the number of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) allowed in Hoppers Crossing, Laverton North, Manor Lakes, Werribee, Williams Landing and Wyndham Vale to 10 machines for every 1000 adults.
But the reforms also allow for an increase of up to 15 per cent in those suburbs not covered by the cap – Point Cook, Tarneit, Truganina and Little River – as the area’s population grows.
Wyndham city life acting director David Semmens said the maximum number of machines currently allowed in Wyndham was 1190. He said the proposed changes would allow up to 1368 machines.
“We have concerns about this,” he said. “In our submission to the state government on this topic we stated that growth in population should not lead to an increase in the number of EGMs.
“We also believe that there is an inequitable spread of EGMs within metropolitan areas, with more machines placed in areas experiencing high levels of social and economic disadvantage.
“We’d much prefer if this regional cap covered our entire municipality.”
In 2016-17, gamblers spent $97.7 million at Wyndham’s poker machine venues.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform, of which Wyndham council is a member, is calling for the government to delay the reforms to allow for more community consultation.
The bill reforms are currently before Parliament.
Campaigner Kelvin Thomson said the alliance strongly opposed more machines in Wyndham.
He said population growth did not justify the government’s decision to allow up to 178 more EGMs in Wyndham.
“This is a recipe for great damage,” he said. “Pokies take a terrible toll on families and the community. The increase is putting these areas at greater risk of poker-machine related harm.”
Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Marlene Kairouz defended the proposed increase, saying the government would not allow more than 15 per cent more EGMs in Wyndham.