The Alliance for Gambling Reform and Tim Costello have published their 2018 election platform with the support Victoria’s major metropolitan councils.

Tim Costello.

Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Tim Costello has called for a reduction in pokie stakes in Victoria to $1. (Image: nz.news.yahoo.com)

Unveiled on July 24 outside the State Parliament, the new manifesto is headlined by the for pokie bets to be reduced from $5 to $1. Under a banner reading “Councils Unite for Pokies Reform,” the organisation’s representatives released the document as part of its latest attempt to reduce gambling related harm in Victoria.

Mayors Unite for Reforms

As per the press release, mayors from Whittlesea, Hume, Darebin and three other major metropolitan areas are working alongside Costello to curb the amount consumers spend on pokies. In the latest projections, the Alliance for Gaming Reform has estimated that pokies losses are set to rise from $90 million to $2.7 billion in the 12 months to June 30.

Commenting on the issue, Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam told The Sunday Morning Herald that now is the time for local councils to take action.

“The Andrews government’s complete lack of will to put people ahead of gambling profits means local councils have no choice but to take their own action. It’s no wonder these councils are fed up with the inaction from their state government,” Ratnam said on July 24.

Calls for a reduction in the maximum bet on pokies comes in the wake of the UK implementing similar rules. Following a long-running campaign by anti-gambling advocates, the British government undertook a review of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) at the end of 2017.

Oz Could Follow UK with Betting Cuts

Despite the £1.8 billion/$3.2 billion bookmakers collect from FOBTs, a portion of which is then put back into the economy, ministers decided to reduce the max bet per round from £100/$177 to £2/$3.50. In light of the move, the Alliance for Gambling Reform wants Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews to do that same.

In addition to a reduction in stakes, the 2018 election platform wants shorter operating hours for venues hosting pokies as well as maximum daily cash withdrawals of $200. To support the manifesto, the Alliance for Gambling Reform is due to publish the latest industry figures on July 27.

“This coming Friday (July 27) will see the release of the annual venue loss figures but we already know after 11 months that 2017-18 will deliver the biggest jump in Victorian pokies losses for a decade,” Costello said in the July 24 Alliance for Gambling Reform press release.

With Australians wagering a total $25 billion each year and $13 billion on pokies, Andrews and his government will be under pressure to respond to the latest calls for change.

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