Council is concerned about the impact gambling has on the most vulnerable members of our community.
During COVID-19 lockdown, for the first time in nearly three decades, all 955 poker machines in the City of Monash were switched off. Throughout lockdown, $74,298,086 was saved by community members that would have otherwise been lost at local gaming machine venues (based on the average total daily loss of $312,177 from July 2019 – February 2020). To see current state-wide figures visit the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation website.
But we are still concerned about the harm caused by poker machines, particularly as they are concentrated in areas of Monash (such as Clayton and Chadstone) where the highest proportion of financially disadvantaged residents live.
Council is a member of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, a national collaboration of organisations with a shared concern about the harmful impacts of gambling in Australia.
Campaign for gambling reform
Residents could request a campaign kit that included postcards calling for reform, informative flyers and stickers.
Open letter to Australia's leaders
In July 2016, Monash Council resolved to sign an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, calling on them to support reforms to Australia's gambling industry:
Gambling Reform Open Letter(PDF, 519KB)
Council resolved to throw its support behind the gambling reform agenda of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Senator Nick Xenophon, Reverend Tim Costello and independent MP Andrew Wilkie. The agenda included:
- Banning advertising for sports betting during G-rated television time periods
- Introducing legislation that limits poker machine harm to a maximum $1 bet and a maximum loss of $120 per hour
- Federal Parliament holding a Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform to build on existing knowledge of the problems and solutions
Council considered the Gambling Reform Campaign Report at its 26 July 2016 meeting.
Adoption of Gambling Policy Statement 2016-2020
In May 2016, Council adopted a Gambling Policy Statement. The statement commits Council to actions including:
- Opposing any relocation of existing Monash poker machines to disadvantaged areas within Monash
- Continuing to advocate to the State Government to reform the Gambling Regulation Act so greater regulation and restrictions are placed on the gambling industry
- Promoting a range of non-gambling social, cultural and recreational opportunities in Monash to encourage people to make engaged, active and healthy lifestyle choices
- Disallowing gambling activity, promotion or advertising in Council-owned facilities such as sporting pavilions
- Refusing funding to community groups that meet in venues that have poker machines. An exception is being made for the Waverley War Widows, who understandably wish to continue meeting at the Waverley RSL sub-branch.
For more information, visit Gambling Policy Statement 2016-2020
Do you require help or support?
To speak to someone about your gambling concerns read more below or call 1800 858 858 or for an instant online response, go to www.gamblinghelponline.org.au.
Gambler's Help is a free service for people who are affected by gambling. The services provided by Gambler's Help include:
- Professional, confidential counselling for people who have been impacted by gambling
- Counselling for the family and friends of people who have been impacted by gambling
- Financial counselling can help by providing information, options and practical assistance to minimise the financial impacts from gambling
- Community education to improve community awareness and knowledge about gambling, the potential risks and how to recognise risky gambling behaviour.
Anybody impacted by gambling (your own gambling or someone else's), can call the Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 858 858. This service can give you the contact details for your nearest Gambler's Help service or, if you prefer, a service away from where you live. Calls to the Helpline are free from landlines, and won't be listed on your phone bill (though may be listed on mobile bills).
Other gambling reform initiatives undertaken by Monash Council include:
Please also visit Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and see their page on Responsible Gambling - Local Prevention Program
Enough Pokies campaign
From April to November 2014, Monash Council initiated and led the Enough Pokies campaign with 2014 Mayor Geoff Lake the campaign spokesperson.
Enough Pokies was a state-wide media and public awareness campaign executed in the lead-up to the November 2014 Victorian State Government election.
Enough Pokies was supported by an unprecedented number of organisations with more than 70 Victorian councils, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), the Salvation Army, Dr Charles Livingstone (a leading academic in critical gambling studies at Monash University) and Rev Tim Costello (World Vision CEO) joining the campaign.
The Enough Pokies campaign focused on exposing the gambling industry's targeted concentration of poker machines within disadvantaged communities across Victoria and called on the major political parties to undertake major reform to poker machine licensing.
Enough Pokies was implemented at a national, state and local level over a period of seven weeks in the lead-up to the Victorian State Election through a state-wide media campaign and community forums.
The objectives of Enough Pokies were to:
- attempt to influence the policies of the major Victorian political parties through an intensive national, statewide and local media campaign
- utilise the leadership of Mayors and Councillors across to 79 Victorian Councils to act as Enough Pokies local champions to speak on the issue
- Call for commitment from both major parties to review Enough Pokies proposed legislative amendments to the Gambling Regulation Act.
The outcomes of the Enough Pokies campaign were:
- An unprecedented coalition of Victorian councils uniting to fight for major system reform to poker machine licensing
- State, national and local media coverage including The Age, Herald Sun, The Guardian, ABC and local Leader newspapers
- 16,000 pledges of community support across Victoria
- Proposed legislative amendments to the Gambling Regulation Act to protect vulnerable communities
- A State Government commitment to meet with Enough Pokies in 2015 to review the legislative amendments
Fighting a proposal for more poker machines
In 2013, Council strongly opposed a proposal by L'unico Hotel in Clayton to increase its number of poker machines. Council was concerned that Clayton already had more poker machines than the average Melbourne suburb.
Council opposed the hotel's proposal at hearings before the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Unfortunately, both bodies decided to approve the hotel's application.
In 2013, Council commissioned a research project examining the impacts of problem gambling within the municipality in 2012/13. The executive summary of this research is called 'A well hidden issue' - Monash Gambling 2013 Report(PDF, 306KB). Key findings of the research have provided Council with a platform to respond to, and prevent harm from gambling, within the community.