United against problem gambling

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A CALL to join a campaign against problem gambling has been heeded by Kingston Council after councillors agreeing council should sign up as an Alliance for Gambling Reform group partner.

Councillors at June’s public council meeting voted to join the alliance’s push to have both sides of politics act on pokies reform in the lead-up to next year’s state election.

A request by Cr Tamsin Bearsley, seconded by Cr George Hua, to defer the $25,000 contribution from ratepayers to the alliance was voted down by fellow councillors.

Both councillors said they wanted more time to find out what benefit the $25,000 would provide to the Kingston area.

A council officers’ report tabled at the council meeting recommended council support the Alliance for Gambling Reform in an attempt “to reduce poker machine losses across the state”.

Kingston joins Melbourne, Moreland, Whittlesea, Monash and Greater Dandenong councils as a “tier one” contributor to the alliance.

Mayor Cr David Eden said council will now be able to play “a leading role” to tackle problem gambling by working with the alliance “to reduce the negative effects of gambling on the community”.

“Although gambling is a lawful activity, some of our most vulnerable residents are suffering due to excessive problem gambling. The negative impacts often extend to their families, friends, and other members of our community,” Cr Eden said.

“In the past financial year alone, Kingston residents lost an estimated $83.5 million through electronic gaming machine use. Research shows that vulnerable groups, including socially isolated people, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, and people from multi-cultural backgrounds are those most at risk.”

Council will also discourage gaming machines in shopping centres throughout Kingston.

Alliance media and communications advisor Stephen Mayne welcomed Kingston Council’s decision to support the campaign to tackle problem gambling.

“We’d love all councils to join the alliance as we drive strength for the campaign in numbers,” he said.

Mr Mayne said Frankston Council has declined to sign up as an alliance partner and the group is speaking to Mornington Peninsula Shire about support.

The Australian Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce, The Salvation Army, Victorian Local Government Association are some of the organisation on the alliance’s board.

The Reverend Tim Costello is a spokesman for the alliance and activist group GetUp! is a supporter according to the alliance’s website.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 5 July 2017

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