Pokies losses on the rise

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POKIES losses across Frankston rose slightly in the past 12 months and still topped $63 million despite the introduction of voluntary pre-commitment cards for gamblers last year.

Pokies punters in neighbouring Mornington Peninsula Shire and Kingston lost $82,381,143 and $83,473,105 respectively in 2015-16.

The Labor state government launched a $197 million YourPlay scheme in December last year allowing pokies players to preselect losses limits using a swipe card to gamble on poker machines.

Critics of YourPlay note gamblers can simply increase the preselected limit if they want to play on.

Uptake of the scheme has been slow. Just 8130 YourPlay cards have been registered and 15,274 casual cards are in circulation according to state government figures released in May.

“The Andrews Labor government shares the community’s concerns about problem gambling. We are focused on reducing the harm caused by problem gambling,” Liquor and Gaming Regulation Minister Marlene Kairouz said.

“That is why we have invested $150 million over the next four years to support problem gambling services and YourPlay.

“Whilst gambling is a legitimate industry, we will continue to take an evidenced based approach to addressing the harm caused by problem gambling.”

Upper House South Eastern Metropolitan region Greens MP Nina Springle says voluntary pre-commitment has failed to curb problem gambling.

“Pokie losses continue to grow bigger and bigger. Voluntary pre-commitment has had absolutely no effect, as predicted,” Ms Springle said. “Pokie machines are designed by experts to be highly addictive, so it’s hardly a wonder that voluntary betting limits are having zero effect.

The Greens MP said only mandatory pre-commitment would help problem gamblers.

First published in the Western Port News – 2 August 2016

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