Kingston Council has called on the Victorian Government to urgently reduce the number of electronic gaming machines allowed in the municipality.
Council said a reduction in the gaming machine cap was crucial to prevent further gambling harm across the city.
Kingston Mayor Steve Staikos said the impact on the Kingston community from gambling was “catastrophic” with more than $62 million lost in 2019/2020, even with gaming venues closed for 100 days due to COVID-19.
“As Councillors we are extremely concerned about the impact of gambling harm in our community and have said enough is enough, we need to stop more pokies being allowed in Kingston,” said Mayor Staikos.
“Under our current cap levels, a further 268 licensed EGMs could be allowed in Kingston, this is excessive and will only lead to further harm for those families and individuals already suffering.”
Council has asked the Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne to support a reduction in the Kingston EGM cap to its current level of licensed EGMs of 945.
Last year Kingston Council also joined other councils around Victoria calling on the Premier to enact urgent reforms to prevent gambling harm, including the closure of local gambling venues at midnight until 10am.
“We know there are connections between gambling harm and mental ill-health, family violence, homelessness and other social and health issues that we care deeply about in Kingston,” Mayor Staikos said.
“Anything that we can do to reduce gambling harm is a good thing for the whole community.”
To further raise awareness of the harm gambling brings to the community, Kingston Council has engaged local playwright Kieran Carroll to write, direct and produce a play to highlight the issue.
“We are seeking interested community members to be a part of a community performance to hopefully destigmatise the issue of gambling and gambling harm, and challenge perceptions around blame, responsibility, choice, addiction and power,” said Mayor Staikos.
The play will be performed at a local venue in Chelsea and at Shirley Burke Theatre later this year. Visit the Kingston Arts’ website to find out more about how to get involved in the Enough is Enough Community performance project.