INDEPENDENT NEWS

Pokies: Coming soon to a dairy near you

Published: Thu 25 Sep 2003 02:44 PM
25 September, 2003
Pokies: Coming soon to a dairy near you
It's open season for pokies with the possibility that they could be installed at local dairies and supermarkets and anywhere else people wanted to put them, said Green MP Sue Bradford today.
Ms Bradford, the Green Gambling spokesperson, has learned that Department of Internal Affairs officials do not intend to require gambling venues to hold a liquor licence to enforce the minimum age restrictions.
"It now appears that under the Gambling Act there will be nothing to stop pokie machines being placed in all manner of businesses," said Ms Bradford.
"We now face the spectre of the local corner dairy being turned into a pokie parlour.
"At least the liquor licence requirements restricted the spread of pokie machines to a certain kind of business that was normally out of the reach of minors. Now pokies could appear anywhere - dairies, supermarkets and airport lounges, for example.
"This is placing far too much trust in the pokie operators to enforce the age restrictions. We know that in many places minors continue to play pokies because of insufficient DIA monitoring."
The new Gambling Act requires that there is a minimal risk of under 18 year-olds playing the machines, that the main activity is not gambling and that the territorial authority gives consent within the bounds of its gambling venue policy.
"These restrictions are far too lax," said Ms Bradford. "It places a very heavy burden on local authorities to ensure that their gambling policies do no allow the proliferation of gambling machines into local retail shops.
"Local people must voice their concerns to their councils and community boards and demand a halt to the spread of pokies into every nook and cranny of their community.
"Pokie trusts have shown a willingness to maximise the profit they reap from the community at whatever cost and the Gambling Act does little to address this."
Ms Bradford said the DIA cannot be trusted to safeguard the community from gambling abuse. Official information supplied by the DIA about the number of venues affected by the Gambling Act in each territorial authority was later found to be incorrect, with the actual figures appearing even worse than first thought.
"The DIA doesn't even know what's going on so the responsibility must lie with local councils to control the blight of pokies on their communities," said Ms Bradford.
ENDS

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