Wyndham council has launched a scathing attack on a state government decision to add 80 new gaming machines to Wyndham from 2022.
State Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz last month announced new poker machine entitlements for 2022 onwards, including an extra 80 pokies across venues in Tarneit, Truganina and Point Cook, which are not covered by Wyndham’s partial cap.
This means Wyndham will go from having 903 machines to 983.
The announcement came only weeks after Ms Kairouz launched the state government’s inaugural Gambling Harm Awareness Week, which ran from October 8 to 14.
Cr Josh Gilligan, who chairs the council’s gambling reference advocacy group, urged the government to reverse its decision.
He said the move would make Wyndham the second-most saturated pokies entitlement area in Victoria.
“The fact that it has been so quietly revealed in the lead-up to a state election is deeply disappointing,” he said.
“Wyndham already has more than 900 pokies machines that have taken a daunting $105.5 million from our residents’ pockets in 2017-18 alone.
“The social harm caused by gambling is well known, with research showing that areas with limited access to pokies have fewer instances of family violence, among other issues.
“The major parties need to face up to record levels of gambling harm and show communities like ours how they intend to address this problem.”
Cr Gilligan also called on the state government to introduce $200 withdrawal limits at ATMs in gaming venues and reduce trading hours.
In November last year, state government gambling reforms placed Wyndham under a partial regional cap for poker machines, meaning that a maximum 638 machines are allowed across Hoppers Crossing, Laverton, Laverton North, Manor Lakes, Werribee, Williams Landing and Wyndham Vale.
The parts of Wyndham not covered by the regional cap are subject to a municipal limit of 10 machines per 1000 adults.
A government spokesperson said the 80 new machines were outside of Wyndham’s area of high vulnerability.
“We know how insidious problem gambling can be – that’s why we’re helping those who choose to gamble stick to their limits,” she said.