Tim Costello key speaker at Maroondah’s Gambling Harm Forum: free event

What does gambling harm look like? What can we do to address it in our communities?

The answers to these questions and others will be the focus of discussion at the Gambling Harm Forum being held on Wednesday, 23 October at Karralyka.

Join Rev Tim Costello, the Chair of Alliance for Gambling Reform, and Kate Sommerville, who has experienced gambling addiction, to hear about the impact of gambling on our society.

The event is being hosted by Eastern Regional Libraries (ERL), together with the Alliance for Gambling Reform, EACH and Maroondah City Council.

ERL chief executive Joseph Cullen said the forum would give industry leaders, agencies, and members of the community an opportunity to network, while discussing strategies to reduce the impact of gambling in our communities.

Mr Cullen said having Tim Costello, a long-time anti-gambling campaigner and leading voice on the harms caused by gambling, as one of the forum’s speakers was a “major drawcard”.

He said Kate’s was an “extraordinary story” like no other.

Kate admits to becoming “almost instantaneously hooked” on the pokies after visiting a hotel in Melbourne to research a report on the socioeconomic impact of EGMs (electronic gaming machines).

Within months of taking up gambling in 2001, Kate, then a local government worker specialising in community support and health policies in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, found she was spending her entire salary on the pokies, which ended up costing Kate her job, her relationship, her car and nearly her home.

After seeking help, she is now helping others by sharing her story.

As the spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Mr Costello said he had long known about the damage caused by poker machines, but never quite understood to what extent.

“Australia has 0.3 per cent of the world’s population and 18 per cent of its poker machines. We collectively lost $24 billion last year feeding money into those pokies, and gambling on sports,” he stated.

“When you appreciate there is significant psychological research applied in the design of poker machines, it is easy to understand why such huge sums of money are wasted every year gambling.”

Following the forum, a panel of health specialists from EACH will be on hand to answer questions.

Event details

When: Wednesday, 23 October 2019 (9am to 11am)

Where: Karralyka, Mines Road, Ringwood East

Cost: FREE

Tickets: Bookings essential at events.yourlibrary.com.au or register your interest by phone on 9800 6448 or by visiting your local library.

How we are tackling gambling

In the 2017-18 financial year, more than $65.3 million was lost to poker machines across 10 poker machine venues in the City of Maroondah – translating to an average $178,976 per day.

Maroondah has 759 EGMs across 10 poker machine venues (capped at legal limit).

In September 2018, Council updated its gambling policy (Maroondah Gambling Policy 2018), which outlines Council’s commitment to reducing the harmful effects of problem gambling, especially within its vulnerable communities.

Maroondah Mayor Councillor Rob Steane said that while Council was not the responsible authority when it came to gaming machines in Victoria, it did advocate on behalf of the community.

“When existing gaming machine venues want to increase the number of EGMs they have, or when a new venue wants to include gaming machines, Council is notified,” he said.

“We then conduct a social and economic impact statement and provide a submission to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, before a determination is made.

“While Council recognises that gambling is a legal recreational activity that forms part of a range of entertainment options available to our community, we also understand that gambling can have a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, their families and the community.

“The use of EGMs is the only form of gambling which Council has the ability to influence or control through the planning scheme. As such, local government has an important role in managing the impacts of gambling in local communities, particularly gambling on EGMs in hotels and clubs,” Cr Steane said.

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