COUNCILS across Victoria are uniting to demand changes to pokies laws but the plea seems to have fallen on policymakers’ deaf ears.
The Labor state government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, and Liberal National Coalition, headed by opposition leader Matthew Guy, have not given any indication that they intend to limit maximum pokies bets to $1 a spin or reduce pokies venue operating hours from 20 hours a day to 14 hours.
Mayors and councillors from “major metropolitan councils” joined Alliance For Gambling Reform representatives including director and spokesman Tim Costello to launch “The Pokies Play You” campaign lobbying all sides of politics ahead of November’s state election to try to stem pokies losses across Victoria.
“A record 18 Victorian councils have signed up to financially support The Alliance in 2018-19, up from 12 in 2016-17, and we are all committed to ensuring the next election delivers real reform,” Mr Costello said.
Mornington Peninsula Shire and Kingston councils have signed up as Alliance partners.
Mr Costello addressed Frankston councillors at Frankston Council’s June public meeting and asked council to join as a group partner at a cost of $25,000 to ratepayers.
Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) figures released last month show pokies losses across the state jumped to nearly $2.7 billion in the 2017-18 financial year, the biggest losses in a decade.
The VCGLR figures show Kingston pokies losses hit $86.3 million over 12 months, Mornington Peninsula Shire losses totalled $83.9 million and Frankston pokies punters lost $64.6 million.
All three south-east municipalities saw a rise in losses from the previous financial year.
Kingston and the Mornington Peninsula Shire areas made the state’s top 10 for pokies losses coming in at number 9 and 10 respectively.