Gambling reformers in Victoria, Australia are looking to make pokies or video slot terminals a raging issue in the coming elections in the city.
An anti-gambling group in Victoria, the prominent Australian state, is coming up with a political effort for having a maximum wager allowance on states pokies to be reduced to AUS $1 (USD $0.74 and £ 0.56), which is 1/5th of the current cap AUS $5 (USD $3.7 and £ 2.8) per wager. The launch of this campaign comes just 4 months before the general election in Victoria in fall season. The anti-gambling group is known as the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) and its main motive is to address the topic of addictive gambling behavior and bring it to the forefront during the coming election campaigns. Victoria is situated on the eastern side of Australia and is a major metropolitan center of Melbourne.
The anti-pokies push by the AGR is very similar and considered almost parallel to the FOBT (fixed odds betting terminals) clash in UK. The clash in UK resulted in a massive reduction of the wagering caps for the various terminals all over the UK just a few months back. The term ‘pokies’ is considered as a contradiction and is unique to Australia. The reference is actually made for video gaming terminals or slots, almost same kinds of devices which are the center of a furor in the UK.
Along with the reduction in wager maximum, there are also other restrictions which the AGR wants to be implemented on the machines. They want reduced hours of operation for the terminals at various clubs and hotels. However, there will be no restrictions of any kind on the casinos. The group is also vouching for a daily cap of $200 per gambler in EFTs (electronic fund transfer). They also want removal of various programmed slot machine features, which are believed to be contributing to problem gambling. These include free spins, linked jackpots and losses which are disguised as wins.
Pokie reforms supported by Victorian mayors
It is interesting to see that many mayors from the different leading municipalities in Victoria are supporting the aims with which the group AGR is progressing. The anti-pokies group has been able to assemble such people as a part of the election-cycle push. The group announced their “Councils Unite for Pokies Reform” movement and asked all parties to come together and work towards gambling reform in Victoria.
The AGR spokesperson Tim Costello was joined by many eminent mayors at the State Parliament press opportunity. Some of the eminent personalities included Whittlesea mayor Kris Pavlidis, Moreland mayor John Kavanagh, Yarra Acting Mayor Misha Coleman, Darebin mayor Kim le Cerf, Greater Dandenong councilor Matthew Kirwan and Hume councilor Joseph Haweil. 18 Victorian councils supported the reform program. However, Melbourne is not included in the list as it is the home of the famous Crown Casino, which fought against the efforts of AGR previously. AGR’s spokesperson Costello had previously assailed the gaming industry in Australia and Crown Casino.
Claims of rise in family violence
In a recently published manifesto, Alliance for Gambling Reform asserted that family violence is seeing a steep rise and pokies are responsible for the same. The group claims that as per reports and research, it has been seen that people who have problems in gambling are perpetrators of family violence. The numbers are much less for people who do not have gambling issues. People with gambling problems have shown evidences of physical violence on their spouses and children. Research reports have shown that there are three times more chances of family violence taking place where gambling is involved. This is a significant harm that gambling does to families where people cannot take the game in its full spirit.
Oppositions claim that there is no cited research in such matters and the claims are subject to further analysis. However, AGR claims that urgent reforms in gambling should be implemented for preventing family violence, needless suicides, frauds and bankruptcy cases. Addictive poker machines in various pubs and clubs should be controlled and random use should be prohibited to save the damages.