By Alesha Capone
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has expressed concern about people being able to access poker machines in Victoria again, as the state eases out of lockdown.
The alliance has estimated that the pandemic lockdowns – between March 16 and November 8 – prevented more than $69.88 million being spent on Wyndham’s poker machines.
Between July 2019 and March 15 this year, the average daily loss on Wyndham’s electronic gaming machines amounted to $293,626.
The alliance’s chief advocate, the Reverend Tim Costello said that Victorians “saved more than $1.8 billion from being lost to poker machines while in lockdown”.
“These savings have been nothing short of extraordinary in some council areas, such as Brimbank where more than $100 million has been saved from being lost on poker machines, along with Casey and Whittlesea with savings well over $90 million,” he said.
“That’s money that will have circulated in their local economies at a time when it has been most needed.
“But it’s not just the financial impacts on local economies that have been so remarkable; gambling harms people and families on a daily basis, and there will have been lives saved and massively improved while poker machines were shut down.”
Reverend Costello commended the state government for implementing a staged reopening of Victoria’s poker machines following the last pandemic lockdown, but said more needed to be done.
“We’re glad there are such tight restrictions on how poker machines can operate, and how many people can use them right now, both from a COVID point of view and for harm reduction,” he said.
“We’re hopeful the Victorian government will learn from this experience and recognise how much it has helped people to have poker machines off.
“We’d like to see the government commit to permanently reduce operating hours (for poker machines) to 10am to midnight, which is a much more sensible and safe approach while still allowing plenty of opportunity for gambling.”
Contact Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858 or see gamblershelp.com.au for assistance.