The Victorian Greens have called on the Andrews Labor Government to waive any licencing fees for clubs and venues that want to phase out their poker machines.
Despite reports of RSL clubs wanting to end their reliance on harmful pokies, without government support they may be liable for up to $1 million in licencing fees.
Pokies are designed to be addictive and cause massive financial stress that can lead to family breakdown, crime, job loss, depression and suicide.
Each year these machines rip $2.7 billion from Victorians.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said it was cruel to make clubs and venues that were trying to do the right thing pay for the government’s pokies addiction.
She added that RSLs were never meant to become mini-casinos and that it was time for the government to give community clubs an exit pathway from pokies. Community clubs should be supported to transition to new forms of revenue like live music, and not penalised for ditching the pokies.
Before the last election, the Greens proposed a phase out of the pokies in Victoria by 2028, and opposed a 20-year licence lock-in for clubs and venues.
At the time the government refused to disclose which clubs would be signing up to this plan and how clubs would be able to exit it without huge financial penalties.
As stated by Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“The Andrews Labor Government is hooked on pokies revenue and is making clubs and venues pay for their addiction.
“RSLs trying to do the right thing should be supported to transition away from harmful pokies and into new forms of revenue, not met with gigantic fees that leave them with no choice but to keep their poker machines.
“It’s time the government gave community clubs an exit pathway from pokies addiction by waiving their licencing fees.”