Regulation not ban could control pokies

November 08, 2017

Independent Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed has voted against the extension of poker machine licences, arguing the government is rushing through the gambling reform bill.

Suzanna Sheed has warned the government to rethink legislation that would extend poker machine licences to 20 years.

The independent Member for Shepparton believed the government was rushing through its proposed gambling reform bill.

The Gambling Regulation Amendment (Gaming Machine Arrangements) Bill 2017 would double the length of poker machine licences from 10 years to 20 years.

Ms Sheed was one of just three lower house members that voted against the bill last week, when she joined with Greens MPs Ellen Sandell and Sam Hibbins.

With the current licences on poker machines not set to expire until 2022, Ms Sheed believed there was little urgency for a bill to pass.

‘‘There is real concern in the community at the saturation of gambling,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘The level of harm minimisation seems to be inadequate.’’

Although she was not a fan of poker machines, she believed regulation was the key, rather than a ban, to lessen the impact on the community.

She called on changes such as $1 bet limits on machines, reduced operating hours for when venues can have machines operating and a limit of $200 on cash withdrawals from venues.

‘‘I’ve walked into venues quite early at 9 and 10am and there are people already at the poker machines,’’ she said.

‘‘It would be hard to believe they are not problem gamblers.’’

With the government and opposition MPs supporting the bill in the lower house, passage in the upper house looks inevitable.

In the City of Greater Shepparton there are 329 poker machines installed across eight venues.

In the last financial year $31147674 was lost on the pokies, an average of $85366 a machine.

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