Saturday, 5 March 2011

Victorian Local Councils - The New Pokie Addicts

Darebin now joins Moreland and Manningham in an idiot's parade of local government councils eager to get their share of the pokie gambling losses. Once locked into this new source of revenue, without a clue about what to do with it, they will become as addicted as our own State governments, the AFL and the NRL. Bear in mind that 40% of this new money is earned on the backs of problem gamblers. It's immoral and, frankly, disgusting.

Instead these Victorian councils should be doing their best to address public health concerns focussing on carefully considered measures preventing or, at worst, minimising the harm of pokie gambling itself. No need to re-invent the wheel. That is what the Productivity Commission came up with after 11 years of study and extensive consultation with all involved in pokie gambling.

Councils have three formal means to influence pokie policy in their city or shire;
  1. Participate in the Victorian Gambling Commission process regarding the approval of new or additional pokies
  2. Participate in the approvals required pursuant to the town planning process
  3. Levy discretionary rates
The most powerful is a fourth means. Rather than look for a stoush with their local pokie pubs and clubs, try talking to them. Here's an agenda for such a chat:
  • An undertaking to implement the measures recommended by the Productivity Commission.
  • Either ban children from their venues or at least remove children from the sights and sounds of pokie and other forms of gambling once inside the pokie pub or club.
  • More visible promotion of self exclusion
  • Prohibition simultaneous gambling on two or more machines.
  • Place Gambler's Help information not only in their toilets but their smoking areas.
All of these discussion points address only the at risk gambler and will not affect the revenue earned from the genuinely recreational gambler.

There is little cost in having an intelligent chat. Not even close to the legal, survey or consulting costs of a VCAT or VCGR brawl.

If the venues fail to co-operate the Council can make it known, so long as the objective criterion are established, that the venue is considered an unsafe gambling venue. Given Council's existing means of communicating with their rate payers the cost of communication is minimal.

Any council genuinely concerned about their citizen's welfare will resist the siren call of sharing in pokie revenue and, instead, address the real problem of the machines themselves.


Libby Mitchell said...

Thanks for raising this was interesting. We tend to forget the council approaches to pokies reforms and I for one have not been fully abreast of recent council initiatives...or lack of effective ones!

Time for us to hit that drawing board too...sooner rather than later. I wonder what Stephen Mayne, Manningham councilor and anti pokies activist, would have to say on this matter?

Tim said...

Pokies are racketeers' cheating devices that have no place in Australia. They should be outlawed. Raising additional taxes only legitimizes the scam.