Greens won’t back down on pokies reform

GREENS lead upper house candidate for Eastern Victoria and gambling reform advocate Tom Cummings has expressed his disappointment at Community Clubs Victoria’s decision to tell their members to vote against his party in this year’s state election.

“It’s extremely disheartening that [just after] Gambling Harm Awareness Week, Community Clubs Victoria is telling people to vote against the only political party with a strong gambling reform platform,” Mr Cummings said.

“They’re telling their members to vote Labor or Liberal, anyone but the Greens, but we won’t be intimidated.”

Mr Cummings said the Greens policy “puts people ahead of profits”.

“Unlike the other parties, we want what’s best for the community, and are not blinded by dollar signs,” he said.

“Poker machines destroy lives.

“They’ve cost Victorians tens of billions of dollars.

“The harm they inflict on society is very real, and can no longer be swept under the carpet.”

A former poker machine addict himself, Mr Cummings said the case for reform was long overdue.

“I know what it’s like to be hooked, to feel like there is no way out,” Mr Cummings said.

“It’s an addiction that is very real.

“I can assure you that from a gambler’s perspective, there has been no real pokies reform in Victoria in over 25 years.

“There are many excellent not-for-profit clubs doing great work in our communities.

“But when Community Clubs Victoria advise against voting for gambling reform, they’re putting their pokies ahead of people.

“It’s high time they joined the Greens in putting people first.”

The Greens plan to phase out pokies in Victoria by 2028.

Current Victorian pokies licences expire in 2022, after which they can be renewed for another 20-year period.

The Greens will move to repeal the 20-year licence extension legislation, and create one new six-year licence between 2022 and 2028, with no new licences after 2028.

It would give councils veto power over whether to grant a new licence to pokies operators in their community, or remove pokies from 2022 altogether.

The Greens would also provide a $200 million fund to assist clubs to move away from pokies and “ensure their survival as important community centres”.

The Greens also want to see immediate harm reduction measures introduced, which would apply to poker machines during the phase out.

There would be a maximum bet limit of $1 per spin and a load up limit of $20.

Jackpots would be no more than $500, with eftpos cash-out limits of $200.

There would also be enforceable limits on amounts that can be lost.