NSW Greens have called on the NSW Government to take Victoria’s lead to implement local caps on the number of poker machines in order to reduce poker machine gambling harm.
The call follows an announcement that the Victorian Government of a suite of measures to tackle poker machine harm including:
- added restrictions on pokies numbers in regions most affected by gambling, with an extension of regional caps on machines; and
- Limiting the number of machines in a single venue to 105.
Greens MP and Gambling Harm Spokesperson Justin Field said, “While Victoria pushes ahead with reform aimed at protecting people and communities from addictive poker machines, the NSW Government fails to act.
“NSW already has more than three times the number of machines compared to Victoria and more than five times the Victorian 105 limit in some of our clubs. This is driving gambling losses in NSW of about $8 billion a year. We need to turn this around.
“The NSW Government has a close relationship with the vested interests of the clubs and hotels that operate pokies and acts in their best interests. It talks up reducing gambling harm while its budget forecasts ever increasing tax revenue from poker machines over coming years.
“Recently Fairfield City Council, that faces the biggest poker machines losses of any local government area in NSW, called for a cap on machines.
“The Greens are calling on the NSW Government and the Labor party to support a winding back of poker machines number across the state. Venue limits, regional limits and an overall state cap make a lot of sense.
“The pokies are not a game, these machines are causing family breakdown and financial ruin, contributing to domestic violence and promoting addiction for profit.
“Minister Paul Toole time and again jumps to the defence of pokies when anyone can see the balance has swung too far in their favour. He should take his responsibility to people and families seriously and follow Victoria’s lead on addressing gambling harm.
“The Victorian example shows there are solutions available to make a significant impact on pokies-related harm, what is lacking in NSW is political leadership and will,” Mr Field said.
Victorian Gaming Minister’s Media Release on pokies reform: http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/sweeping-reforms-to-tackle-pokies-harm/