Council lobbying to help drive down $22 million annual pokie losses
Almost $22 million was poured into poker machines across Mitchell Shire over the past year – the equivalent of 7.3 million loaves of bread, 360,000 tanks of fuel or paying 282 people the average wage for a year.
The stark comparisons highlight the magnitude of gambling in Mitchell, with the latest Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation data revealing punters lost $21.9 million across seven venues in the shire from July 2017 to June 2018.
With problem gambling known to lead to other social and health problems such as family violence, homelessness and mental health issues, Council is actively lobbying for regulation changes as part of its advocacy priorities.
Council has proactively written to the Victorian Government asking for an electronic gaming machine cap to be implemented in our region and is lobbying for 10 per cent of gambling revenue to be put back into grassroots social services.
Council is also a member of The Alliance for Gambling Reform, a group of councils and other organisations who share concerns about the harmful impacts gambling can have on communities.
Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said gambling reform to reduce problem gambling and minimise the impact in growth areas was a major priority for Council.
“Gambling, in particular pokie machines, can be detrimental to the health of our community and can put already vulnerable people at risk,” Cr Sanderson said.
“While not everyone who uses electronic gaming machines is addicted, we know problem gamblers are disproportionally addicted to pokies compared to other forms of gambling and we know that problem gambling can lead to a whole host of other social and health issues.
“The latest data is quite confronting and just goes to show how much of an impact these machines are having on our community. There are so many other things that this amount of money could be better spent on, rather than pokies.”