Pandemic slashes pokies spend


By Alesha Capone

Almost $16.5 million has been saved from being fed into gaming machines across Wyndham since the coronavirus forced the closure of pubs and clubs.

Gaming venues have been closed since March 23 in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Alliance for Gambling Reform, almost $300,000 per day has been saved in Wyndham since the closure.

Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate Reverend Tim Costello last week said $5.62 million was spent on Wyndham’s 903 poker machines between March 1 and March 23 this year.

During March last year, $8.96 million was fed into gaming machines across the municipality.

“That’s money that is paying rent and mortgages for people, and will be circulating through the local economy at a time when small businesses in Wyndham need the most support,” Reverend Costello said.

“We’re hearing some great stories of how people are no longer worrying about how to pay their bills because they now have money in their bank accounts instead of them being bled by poker machines.

“I know of one mother who is finally breathing a sigh of relief knowing her child can no longer blow his income on the pokies.”

Reverend Costello praised Wyndham council for recently rejecting an application for up to 80 poker machines at a proposed entertainment and commercial centre for Leakes Road in Truganina.

“Wyndham council deserves a round of applause for recognising the damage caused by gambling harm and taking a stand against more poker machines,” Reverend Costello said.

“They rightly want safe and healthy forms of entertainment in Wyndham for local people and families to access, not mind-numbing pokies.”

Reverend Costello said COVID-19 had given Australia the chance to re-think its approach to pokies.

“We can come out of this awful crisis with a real positive if we can significantly reduce gambling harm in our communities,” he said.