NEW gaming legislation is expected to have a significant impact on the Mornington Peninsula, where around $68 million is lost at pokies venues every year.
The statistics highlight the continuing cost of gambling addiction in the shire, where 820 machines operate in 17 venues, the second highest number of pokies outlets of any Victorian municipality after Geelong.
The state government’s reforms are aimed at making the state’s gambling harm protections the strongest in Australia.
Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne announced the changes last week to reduce gambling harm at venues with electronic gaming machines across the state.
At a gambling reform seminar led by the Alliance for Gambling Reform on the Mornington Peninsula last year, it was revealed that peninsula residents are among the biggest losers in the gambling stakes.
The Rosebud Hotel has the highest losses of all venues on the peninsula, with about $7 million lost in the six months to September 2022.
The alliance’s the Rev Dr Tim Costello said the changes would make a significant difference in reducing gambling harm.
“These reforms appear to be very significant, especially the introduction of mandatory carded play with load up limits per time no more than $100,” he said.
“We still need to see all of the details, but this will go a long way towards minimising gambling harm in our community as well as reducing the huge amounts of dirty money being laundered through poker machines.”
Under the changes, all EGMs in Victoria will require mandatory pre-commitment limits and carded play, putting the power back into the hands of patrons while also ensuring that money is tracked – stopping money laundering through our gaming venues.
Load up limits – how much money an individual can put into an EGM at a time – will be capped at $100 (down from $1000) to reduce the amount that can be lost.
Mandatory pre-commitment, carded play and load up limits will be introduced subject to consultation with industry through an implementation working group – taking into account trials in other jurisdictions and the experience at Crown Melbourne, which will have mandated pre-commitment and carded play on all EGMs by the end of 2023.
By mid-2024, mandatory closure periods will apply to all gaming machine areas in a venue, except the casino, between 4am and 10am. This will address evidence showing some venues have staggered opening hours to allow users to move between venues to continue gambling.
It will also be mandatory for all new EGMs to spin at a rate of three seconds a game, slowing the pace of the game down and limiting the amount that can be lost.
The reforms extend changes the government introduced after the findings of the Royal Commission to other gaming venues across the state, building on protections introduced at Crown and the establishment of the nation’s strongest regulator – the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC).
An estimated 330,000 Victorians experience harm as a result of gambling each year – costing Victoria around $7 billion annually and leading to significant financial distress, mental health concerns and relationship issues.
Horne said everyone lost when it came to gambling.
“Everyone loses when it comes to gambling harm, and it’s not confined to money – people lose their relationships, their jobs and their wellbeing,” she said.
“Our previous reforms have delivered stronger oversight of the gambling industry in Victoria with a regulator unafraid to hold venues to account – now we’re doing more important work to reduce gambling-related harm.
First published in the Mornington News – 25th July 2023