BALLARAT gambling losses have almost halved since pokies venues re-opened in November in what anti-gambling advocates say is now a key time to build momentum on changed habits.
There was more than $2 million combined loss in 14 venues within the City of Ballarat from November 9, when pokies returned, to the month’s end, the latest data from Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation shows.
This equates to about half what was lost in a similar time frame on Ballarat pokies within November a year earlier.
There is a similar losses trend in the Moorabool Shire, which includes figures from two pokies venues in the neighbouring Hepburn Shire.
Gaming rooms were closed statewide on March 16 due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Net losses in Ballarat pokies venues for the past financial year were more than $43.7 million and this included three full months without gambling.
Ballarat Community Health and Child and Family Services launched a campaign during the pokies suspension encouraging people to try alternative activities and try to break the habit.
City of Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates said while the City had worked closely with the region’s anti-gambling bodies, there needed to be greater support from all levels of government for harm minimisation.
Cr Coates said while it was good losses were down, this was an issue with greater social impacts that also needed addressing such as mental health, isolation and links between pokies and family violence.
To be a compassionate society, and a compassionate Ballarat, we should be taking steps to ensure there are ways to transition from pokies reliance.
Cr Belinda Coates, City of Ballarat
“To be a compassionate society, and a compassionate Ballarat, we should be taking steps to ensure there are ways to transition from pokies reliance. It’s a good thing for the community,” Cr Coates said.
“We need to help build momentum in changing habits. The state government should help transition people to new habits.”
Cr Coates said the state government could look to other methods to raise more money and local jobs in other forms of hospitality with food, culture and live entertainment that have more positive impacts in the community, rather than gambling.
She also said there were other harm minimisation actions the government could take as recommended in the 2010 Productivity Commission’s inquiry into gambling. These include reduced opening hours.
IN OTHER NEWS
“COVID has given people time to reflect on what’s important in life. For some, that has meant finding other ways to spend their time apart from gambling,” Ms Settle said. “For others, it’s taking that first step and reaching out to someone to talk about gambling. It’s always a good time to talk.”
Meanwhile, Sebastopol Library’s Library After Dark program returns on Thursday night.
The program, while open to anyone is also billed as a safe, gambling-free alternative for people seeking social connections in an inclusive environment.
Families are welcome.
If you or someone you know is experiencing harm from gambling, or the gambling of someone close to you is affecting your wellbeing, phone Cafs on 1300 692 237 or email [email protected]
- Ballarat Community Health: 5338 4500.
- Gamblers Help: 1800 858 858
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat’s story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.