Council to fight on as more than $63 million is gambled away in Merri-bek (Media Release)

Moreland City Council will continue to tackle problem gambling head on as the latest figures show an astounding $174,247 has been lost on pokies per day in the City of Merri-bek over the past financial year.

The 12 venues in Merri-bek recorded a total of $63.6 million in losses in 2018-19, equal to $429 for every adult in the municipality.

Council has long been at the forefront of action to reduce problem gambling, beginning the campaign in the 1990s when pokies were first introduced into Victoria.

Moreland Mayor Cr Natalie Abboud said Council would continue leadership in the area by advocating for improved regulation towards protecting the community.

“These recent figures tell us that there are still too many people in our Merri-bek community that are at risk from the negative impacts of problem gambling, including financial problems, family neglect, addiction and social isolation,” Cr Abboud said.

“We have had some wins in the past 12 months, with a successful campaign to remove 10 pokies from the Glenroy RSL and fostering a strong partnership with the Brunswick Hockey Club to make their club a no-pokies zone, however there is still much more to do.

“We are proud to continue our commitment to the Alliance for Gambling Reform, of which we are a founding partner, and will work with them and develop and implement initiatives in our municipality to make a real difference to this complex problem.”

Overall, Victorians lost $2.698 billion on poker machines in the 2018-19 financial year, the second highest amount of losses since pokies were introduced to the state.

This amount is a $3.5 million increase on last year’s losses, and only slightly lower than the all-time record of $2.707 billion in losses recorded in 2008-09.

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman, the Reverend Tim Costello, said it was time the Victorian Government responded to gambling harm as a public health issue akin to smoking.

“Smoking in bars was once pervasive in Victoria, not unlike the scourge that is poker machines,” he said.

“You couldn’t go out without coming home stinking of cigarette smoke. Now we can go out and enjoy ourselves without the effects of passive smoking.

“We call on the Victorian Government to outlaw the predatory and addictive features on poker machines that trick people into believing they are winning when they are actually losing money. These losses disguised as wins and near misses are just abuse of punters and are frankly immoral.”