COAST PUN­TERS BLOW $60 MIL­LION ON POKIES

Deputy Mayor says it’s time for gam­bling re­forms

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - Inge Hansen Inge.Hansen@ fraser­coastchron­i­cle.com.au

THE re­gion’s Deputy Mayor has re­newed calls for tougher gam­bling reg­u­la­tions af­ter it was con­firmed al­most $60 mil­lion was poured into pokie ma­chines on the Coast last year.

Fig­ures re­leased on Thurs­day by the Of­fice of Liquor and Gam­ing Reg­u­la­tion re­vealed dur­ing 2017, $59,431,728 was lost.

This was spread be­tween 1300 li­cenced ma­chines.

Au­gust recorded the great­est loss with a to­tal of $5,409,611.

Cr Ge­orge Sey­mour said the cost was “mad­ness” given the ma­chines served “no use­ful pur­pose”.

“They are de­signed to ad­dict, there re­ally should be stronger con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws to pro­tect our com­mu­nity from these de­struc­tive com­puter pro­grams,” he said.

“$59 mil­lion sounds like a lot of money, and it cer­tainly is, but it is the hu­man scale that is the tragedy.”

Cr Sey­mour said gam­bling ad­dic­tion could lead to re­la­tion­ship break­downs, un­em­ploy­ment, men­tal health is­sues and even sui­cide.

“We as a com­mu­nity need to rise above these harm­ful

ma­chines that have been placed here,” he said.

“The sooner they are gone, the bet­ter.”

Her­vey Bay RSL Com­mu­nity En­gage­ment Of­fi­cer Sarah Bai­ley said she was not sur­prised by the fig­ures.

She said much of the money made at the RSL how­ever was dis­trib­uted to a va­ri­ety of lo­cal com­mu­nity groups in­clud­ing Fraser Coast Buc­ca­neers, Her­vey Bay Seag­ulls, We Care 2 and Vol­un­teer Ma­rine Res­cue.

“The money comes di­rectly from prof­its we make at the club,” she said.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent way to help fam­i­lies and groups.”

On Wed­nes­day, the next round of the Gam­bling Com­mu­nity Ben­e­fit fund opened to com­mu­nity groups who were urged to ap­ply for the fund­ing.

Mary­bor­ough MP Bruce Saun­ders said com­mu­nity groups could ap­ply for grants worth be­tween $500

and $35,000 to go to­wards up­grad­ing their ser­vices or up­grad­ing equip­ment.

“Ev­ery year the Gam­bling

Com­mu­nity Ben­e­fit Fund dis­trib­utes about $53 mil­lion of gam­ing rev­enue to Queens­land com­mu­ni­ties,”

he said.

Gam­blers Anony­mous Aus­tralia 0467 655 799.

Life­line 131 144.

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