$20m pok­ies loss

McIvor Times - - NEWS - By THOMAS HINSS

MITCHELL SHIRE res­i­dents lost more than $20 mil­lion on pok­ies in 2016-17, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the Vic­to­rian Com­mis­sion for Gam­bling and Liquor Reg­u­la­tion.

That’s an in­crease of more than $1 mil­lion on 2015-16 and more than dou­ble that of the Ru­ral City of Be­nalla ($10 mil­lion), which in­cludes Strath­bo­gie Shire.

The data re­veals a sad state of ad­dic­tion in Vic­to­ria, where gam­blers spend more than $7 mil­lion a day on the pok­ies.

Seven venues and 293 poker ma­chines are li­censed to op­er­ate in Mitchell Shire.

The Mu­nic­i­pal As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria is call­ing for dras­tic changes in or­der to limit losses and elim­i­nate de­sign fea­tures used to in­crease poker ma­chine ad­dic­tion.

‘‘Re­search shows that elec­tronic gam­ing ma­chines are con­cen­trated in ar­eas of so­cial and eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tage,’’ MAV pres­i­dent Mary Lalios said.

‘‘These are vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties that can least af­ford to carry the bur­den.’’

The MAV made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions, in­clud­ing ban­ning losses dis­guised as wins, plac­ing a $1 max­i­mum bet limit on all ma­chines and lim­it­ing losses to $120 per per­son per hour.

Cr Lalios said the onus should be placed on ap­pli­cants to prove the so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fit of poker ma­chines rather than on ob­jec­tors to prove their detri­ment.

No Pok­ies for Euroa, a grass­roots com­mu­nity move­ment, re­cently fought and won a case to keep poker ma­chines out of the town.

The Vic­to­rian Civil and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal (VCAT) ruled in the group’s favour that the Euroa Ho­tel was not a suit­able lo­ca­tion for 30 poker ma­chines and agreed to over­turn the per­mit granted to the ho­tel by Strath­bo­gie Shire Coun­cil.

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