Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has urged the Government not to rush through its proposed gambling reform bill.
At a Women Against Pokies rally on the steps of Parliament this morning, Ms Sheed said she took issue with many aspects of the proposed legislation and was questioning the Government’s desire to hurry the Bill to a vote.
“It seems to be being rushed through Parliament for no good reason when the current licences do not expire for five more years,” Ms Sheed said.
“Given what we know about the risks to problem gamblers, this is simply not acceptable.”
The Gambling Regulation Amendment (Gaming Machine Arrangements) Bill 2017 is due to be debated in the Legislative Assembly this week.
The Bill will authorise gaming after 2022 – when current licences expire – for a further 20 years, with the aim of providing certainty for industry and communities.
It also includes several harm-minimisation measures, including restricting access to cash at gaming venues and safeguards around cashless gaming, which Ms Sheed said were welcome, but did not go far enough.
Quotes attributable to Ms Sheed (not from the rally)
“There are a large number of people in our community who are suffering the impact of being addicted to gambling and the flow on effect of that is being felt by up to a third of Victorians.
“We know that for every problem gambler, seven to 10 other people are affected.
“We know that women so often feel the impact, whether they’re gambling themselves, or a family member is. They feel the impact on their families, the income stress they have to manage and the relationship issues they face that lead, often, to family violence.
“I feel very disappointed that the legislation is being extended for such a long period of time. Licensing these addictive machines for another twenty years is sentencing a whole new generation to the scourge of gambling.
“I’d like to see the Bill lay on the table while these issues are addressed, while the Productivity Commission’s recommendations are looked at more closely while harm minimisation is given a lot more priority than it is at the moment.”
Electronic gaming machine data for the City of Greater Shepparton (2016-2017) can be found at https://www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/31933/greater-shepparton-egm-data-2016-2017.pdf
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