The pokies in Victoria have been a social disaster for low-income Victorians. Should pokie use be discouraged? The issue is whether the interests of the many 'responsible' gamblers should be sacrificed because an 'irresponsible' minority become compulsive players who destroy their own lives as well as the lives of their families. I think the damage of pokies outweighs the limited joys of their handles.
I rarely have much positive to say about the Greens as an Australian political force but on pokies they have driven a worthwhile agenda. In Victoria they propose cutting the 27,500 machines by 20,000 when gaming licences expire in 2012. I have previously urged the Victorian Liberals to imitate this policy and they now seem to have done so to some extent. Regrettably I doubt it is because Ted Baillieu has read my blog. But today Baillieu announced the Liberals would cut pokie numbers in Victoria by 5,000 thereby reducing the State Government's dependence on tax revenue from pokies to something below the $1 billion it currently gets. He will also spend much more addressing the problems faced by compulsive gamblers and make known statistics on the extent of compulsive gambling.
Watch for screams from the anti-social Tattersals and Tabcorp duopoly. Also watch for the dullard Labor Party response from their weak Gaming Minister John Pandazopoulos. The hope is that this will become a competition that ultimately reduces further the role of the mind-numbing and impoverishing pokie menace in Victoria.