Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Local Government's Pokie Addiction

Recent developments in Victoria indicate that local government is about to become pokie addicts. Click here to read about the Moreland City Council.

What is proposed is that council rates will be raised on pokie venues by 100%. The report is that any new funds will be funneled into community grants - whatever that means.

The City of Casey are considering Community Benefit Contribution Agreements where money from pokie venues would be paid to programs such as children/family service programs or eductaional, cultural or not for profit organisations.

This approach is wrong and is no different than the often criticised dependence of the Brumby government on pokie revenue.

Instead what councils should be doing is talking to the pokie operators about measures like removing children from the sights, sounds and promotion of gambling at pokie venues thereby halting the normalisation of pokie gambling. At the same time, councils should be following the lead of people like Greg Barber and insisting upon a program whereby mandatory pre-committment measures are installed in their local pokie venues.

Perhaps Premier Brumby could do the same at the Crown Casino. Instead of levying additional tax, he should have insisted upon manadatory pre-commitment for all pokie players. After all, Crown already has player loyalty mechanisms installed in every pokie. It would be relatively easy for Crown to take the next step.

Instead of focusing upon how we might better use the money taken from pokie gambling, its time to consider how we might better reduce the harm these machines cause.

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