‘No more’ pokies spread – council

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A PLEA to stop any more pokies machines coming to the Frankston area is being made by council to state politicians.

Councillors at this month’s public council meeting unanimously decided to write to Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy and local Labor state MPs Paul Edbrooke (Frankston) and Sonya Kilkenny (Carrum).

North-West Ward councillor Glenn Aitken raised a notice of motion at the meeting “requesting a moratorium and/or ban on any further gaming machines in the Frankston municipality”.

Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) statistics show pokies losses have averaged about $62 million each year for the past three financial years.

There are nine pokies venues in the Frankston municipality and 519 electronic gaming machines, according to the VCGLR figures.

Cr Aitken said pokies are “worse” than other forms of gambling such as horse and greyhound race betting and lamented “damage done” by the machines.

“They are quite addictive and they’re designed to be addictive,” he said.

“It really attracts people who are vulnerable to that type of gambling and it really destroys communities. It’s really very sad.”

Council will seek a letter of support from the Alliance for Gambling Reform, a group that lobbies all sides of politics to “reduce the harm” gambling causes.

Alliance director Reverend Tim Costello, chief advocate of World Vision Australia, coincidentally told councillors he has moved to Frankston this year.

The new Frankston resident addressed councillors at the June public council meeting and said state governments reap billions of dollars in revenue from pokies yet “councils get left to clean up a lot of the damage”.

Mr Costello said individuals who become pokies addicts are often blamed by some for taking responsibility for their gambling.

“We never blame the machine. The machine is built for addiction.”

The alliance has asked Frankston Council to join the Alliance for Gambling Reform as a group partner at a cost of $25,000 to ratepayers.

Neighbouring Kingston and Mornington Peninsula Shire councils are listed as alliance leaders on the group’s website.

First published in the Frankston Times – 16 July 2018

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