As the State election nears, community and local government support for the Enough Pokies campaign continues to build, Enough Pokies campaign spokesman and Monash Mayor Geoff Lake said today.
Cr Lake said that the campaign is now supported by over 40 local councils, as well as the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Salvation Army.
"Monash Council chose to join the Enough Pokies campaign because it's time local councils were given a fighting chance in protecting vulnerable communities from inappropriate placement of pokies," Cr Lake said.
"The responses the campaign has received from organisations around the state, and those we've received locally, show that this is an issue the community is concerned about.
"Monash Council has received messages of support from a number of community group who have thanked Council for our leadership on this campaign," Cr Lake said.
These community groups include the Bengali Association of Victoria, the Mount Waverley Ladies Probus Club, GJS Intellectual Company Australia, Islamic Association of Monash Mosque, The Culture Club of United Hungarians, Circolo Pensionati Campani Italiano di Clayton, Southern Ethnic Advisory and Advocacy Council Inc and the South East Volunteers.
Problem gambling expert and campaign adviser Dr Charles Livingstone said that the campaign had recently completed a full assessment of existing Gambling Regulation Act legislation.
"The changes we are seeking are simple, easily implemented and aren't nearly as expensive as some of the election pledges the major parties are throwing around," Dr Livingstone said.
"Councils who oppose pokies applications are routinely coming up against cashed-up operators with teams of hired 'expert witnesses'. These operators think nothing of spending $250,000 on fighting for an application," Dr Livingstone said.
"We are seeking amendments to the Gambling Regulation Act that will at least put councils on a level playing field in protecting vulnerable communities from inappropriate placement of pokies.
"Principally this is about making the applicant meet social and economic impact tests. These machines are simply too damaging to problem gamblers to continue to proliferate, as they are, in our poorest areas.
"We also need to allow the Commission and councils enough time to properly consider and response to applications, so that the right decision can be made" he said.
"Any step that helps to protect vulnerable communities from the harm of poker machines is a step worth taking, and I fully support what the Enough Pokies campaign is trying to achieve," he said. Municipal Association of Victoria President Bill McArthur said that local councils had demonstrated a deep concern about the issue.
"The MAV State Council overwhelmingly voted to support this call for change. It is clear to us, by the number of councils who have expressed their concern for the welfare of their communities, that inappropriate placement of pokies is an area the state government needs to address," Cr McArthur said.
In support of the Enough Pokies campaign, the MAV has sought protection for vulnerable communities from pokies in its Call to Parties document submitted to all major political parties ahead of the state election.
Enough Pokies Position Statement: Edition 3, 17 November 2014 (pdf, 2MB)
Enough Pokies Position Statement: Edition 4, 26 November 2014 (pdf, 2MB)