Pokie venues to face sweeping changes

Sweeping reforms will change the face of the Sunbury pokie machine sector as the Victorian government works to reduce gambling harm across the state. The changes are expected to be in place by the end of the year, and Hume City Council says the reforms are a major win for communities.

The move by the Andrews Labor Government comes on the back of a campaign spearheaded by Hume Mayor Cllr Joseph Haweil lobbying for state mandated regulation of the gaming industry.

Changes include:

  • All electronic gaming machines in Victoria will require mandatory pre-commitment limits and card play
  • Load up limits – the amount that can be put in a machine in one go – will be capped at $100, down from $1,000
  • By mid-2024, mandatory closure periods will be enforced for all gaming machine areas in a venue, except casinos, between 4am and 10am
  • The Government will make it mandatory for all new EGMs to spin at a rate of three seconds per game, slowing the pace of the game

In correspondence sent to the Victorian Premier, Hume councils outlined:

  • The prolific harm caused by gambling including, more than $104 million lost to gambling in Hume in 2021/22
  • The unchecked efforts by venues to target vulnerable community members
  • Council recommendations to reduce harm in communities, include…
    • Mandatory cashless pre-commitment cards
    • Reduction in the maximum operating hours at gaming venues
    • The continuation of the regional gaming cap (Hume-wide) and for its reduction; and
    • Programs and policies that address issues of ease of access to online gambling apps and gambling advertising

Cllr Haweil says: “The local government sector has been at the forefront of gambling harm minimisation and reform advocacy for many years having seen the negative impact of poker machine throughout communities.

“This is a step in the right direction with the Andrews Labor Government having heard voices including Hume City’s. The announced measures will help protect the financial and emotional well-being of our community and reduce opportunities for harm.”

Anyone affected by their own or someone else’s gambling can call Gambler’s Help 24/7 on 1800 858 858 to access confidential and free advice, support and referral.

Hume City press release here. Dan Andrews’ press release here.