Lower house debates gambling reform laws
20 October 2023
The Legislative Assembly has debated measures to reduce gambling harm by enforcing mandatory closure periods for gaming machine areas between 4 am and 10 am.
In her second reading speech the Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, said the legislation is the first step in implementing a range of gambling reforms.
‘While the law requires venue operators to provide no more than 20 hours of gaming each day, we have seen that some gaming operators have been staggering their opening hours to allow patrons to move between venues in one area and continue gambling,’ she said.
‘Research shows that gambling late at night is strongly associated with gambling harm. Having a break from gambling is an important gambling harm reduction measure, as bringing a person ‘out of the zone’ increases their awareness of the decisions they are making,’ she said.
“ We have a huge incidence of domestic and family violence in this state, and gambling does have a little role in that. ”
Cindy McLeish, Member for Eildon
Danny O’Brien, Shadow Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, said the opposition would support the Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 but was seeking to amend the legislation so as not to disadvantage venues located withing three kilometres of Crown Casino.
“ About 330,000 Victorians experience harm because of gambling each year, and it costs Victoria an estimated $7 billion a year. ”
Vicki Ward, Member for Eltham
‘Those who are close by should not be disadvantaged by the fact that the government is exempting the casino from these mandatory closing hours. We do not think that is fair,’ he said.
Vicki Ward, Member for Eltham said the law would help protect gamblers from harm.
‘These reforms will improve the protection afforded to all Victorians that gamble. It is estimated that around about 330,000 Victorians experience harm because of gambling each year, and it costs Victoria an estimated $7 billion a year, she said.
“ To some of us they are much, much more than figures. To me it is the devastation of my family. ”
Michalea Settle, Member for Eureka
Member for Eildon Cindy McLeish spoke about the link between gambling and domestic violence.
‘There is the hidden nature of gambling and domestic violence or intimate partner violence, and in situations when a partner has gambled, the stresses in those households are particularly high. I think we need to be mindful of that because at the same time we have a huge incidence of domestic and family violence in this state, and gambling does have a little role in that,’ she said
Member for Eureka, Michalea Settle, spoke of her personal experience with gambling harm.
She said 330,000 Victorians experience harm as a result of gambling each year.
‘What I really want to say here is that these figures are horrifying – we all know how horrifying they are – but to some of us they are much, much more than figures. To me it is the devastation of my family. To me it is having to look my sons in the eyes and tell them that I am leaving Daddy,’ she said.
Member for Brunswick, Tim Read, said while the Greens supported the legislation, they believed it should go further, proposing amendments that would compel poker machine venues to close by midnight.
'There is persuasive evidence that substantial harm occurs on poker machines between midnight and 4 am,’ he said.