MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (15:14:18) — My adjournment matter today is for Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. The action I seek relates to the electronic gambling figures that were released today by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
Last year saw the biggest increase in spending on Victorian poker machines for the last decade. Spending on poker machines has now increased to $2695 million, which is a 3.3 per cent increase on the 2016 spending. In my electorate alone this is $445.4 million spent in the last financial year, with the local government area of Whittlesea spending $95 million in eight venues. The two highest spending locations are both situated in my constituency, with a combined total spending of over $40 million — $40 million! — in two venues.
Unfortunately these figures are not surprising, and if the current regulation continues we are only going to see these figures increase. We also know that problematic gambling is related to family violence, and sadly we have just been stopped from finalising the debate on family violence when we know that family violence is one of the most important issues facing my electorate.
This week I spoke at the ‘Mayors unite against poker machines’ rally outside Parliament. They are mayors who have seen the damaging effect of poker machines in their municipalities, as have all of us in our electorates. They have spoken to local residents who are suffering the financial and emotional effects of these machines. I do not think there is a single person in this house who has not met someone who has been affected by problematic gambling on poker machines.
The action I am seeking from the minister is for change. I am seeking that the minister ensure that maximum bets are reduced to $1 and the operating hours of these venues are curtailed.
Raised with: Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation
The Victorian Government is not currently considering reducing the maximum bet limit on gaming machines or reducing the operating hours of gaming venues.
Victoria already has the equal lowest bet limit for gaming machines in Australia at $5 per spin on gaming machines outside the Melbourne casino.
Under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003, all gaming venues must not operate gaming machines for at least four consecutive hours each day.
This government has introduced a range of measures to reduce the harm associated with gaming machines, following extensive consultation with community and industry stakeholders.
These measures include limiting EFTPOS cash withdrawals in gaming venues to $500 per card in a 24 hour period, prohibiting venue operators cashing cheques for patrons and imposing new harm minimisation requirements in relation to cashless gaming.
The government has also increased the number of municipal districts subject to regional caps on gaming machine entitlements. Regional caps on gaming machine entitlements apply to a total of 25 regions throughout the State.
These are important harm minimisation measures that build on other work of the Victorian government to reduce gambling-related harm.