Pokie freeze for 25Y

July 08, 2017

Electronic gaming machine profits from Shepparton's Victoria Hotel were the highest outside Melbourne last year, and the 10th highest in the state.

The number of pokie machines across Victoria will be capped for 25 years under a decision by the Victorian Government.

Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz announced the reforms yesterday after months of consultations with key industries.

Under the reforms the number of gaming machines will stay capped at 27372 and the maximum numbers per venue will be frozen at 105.

Greater Shepparton City councillor Fern Summer said she supported limits to pokie machines, which she described as ‘‘abhorrent’’.

‘‘I see them as predatory machines,’’ Cr Summer said.

‘‘They draw in these vulnerable people who think they are going to get a big cash pay out when that is just not the case.’’

According to figures from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, an average of $85853 is lost to the pokies at Greater Shepparton’s eight gaming venues every day.

Cr Summer said she could not speak for other counsellors, but she was strongly inclined to vote against any planning approval for extra pokie machines if they came to council.

‘‘Gambling has a clear negative affect on the community,’’ she said.

The capping was also welcomed by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, with senior associate Jennifer Kanis praising it as a difficult decision for the government.

‘‘Implementing a freeze on poker machines will impact on tax revenue, and it is significant to see that the Andrews Government is prepared to forgo this in order to ensure a more level playing field on poker machines in Victoria,’’ Ms Kanis said.

She said although the numbers of pokies would not be reduced, it was beneficial in the long term as population growth would see the numbers reduce on a per capita level.

‘‘We would now urge other states and venues to take a similar approach in looking at a freeze on poker machine numbers,’’ she said.

Primary Care Connect clinical services manager Tim Andrews said problem gambling was an issue across Shepparton and the rest of the state.

‘‘It impacts people in many ways, it impacts families and their finances and their ability to pay bills and put food on the table,’’ Mr Andrews said.

Anyone wanting help with a gambling problem can phone the Gambling Helpline on 1800858858 or Primary Care Connect on 58233200.

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