For the next 25 years, Victoria, Australia will host exactly 27,372 poker machines. No more, no less.
How many poker machines are too many? How much is too few? That’s been an area of debate amongst Victoria’s regulators for some time now. According to Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz, there’s a perfect number for the Australian state, and that number is 27,372.
That figure represents the exact number of poker machines currently installed in Victoria’s clubs, hotels and pubs. Ms. Kairouz believes it’s the right number, and has placed a lock on it to ensure it will remain the right number for the next 25 years.
Furthermore, a lock was placed on the number of pokies a single non-casino venue is allowed to install. That number was capped at 105.
27,372 Poker Machines Until 2042
The government has signed off on the poker machines lock that will see the number of pokies frozen in place until the year 2042. Response to the news has been mixed, but the Gaming Minister believes it’s in the best interest of the state, its club owners, and the countless players who enjoy a flutter.
“Not a single extra gaming machine will be allowed in Victoria for the next 25 years,” said Ms. Kairouz. The purpose of the freeze on pokies, she added, is to help “limit gambling-related harm in our community.”
Response To Victoria Pokies Freeze Mixed
As with any controversial decision by the government, the response to Victoria’s pokies freeze has been mixed. If the purpose of the review was to invoke gambling reform aimed at harm reduction, how does maintaining status quo honour that goal?
Greens MP Colleen Hartland is known for her anti-gambling virtues. She doesn’t believe the government went nearly far enough with its reform efforts, and that “more pokies harm” will come from this latest decision.
“Pokies rip billions of dollars from Victorian communities each year and Labor is now locking in this crisis for another three decades,” argued the Greens MP. Problem gambling, she said, leads to crime, unemployment and broken families.
The pubs and hotels that host poker machines aren’t complaining one bit. Faced with a potential reduction in machines, and subsequent loss of revenue, they are more than happy to learn that their bottom line won’t be effected by the freeze on Victoria pokies.
You won’t hear a negative peep from the state’s club owners, either. They use their end of the bargain to support their own athletic organizations, which help to provide local and youth sports activities in their area.
And of course the State Treasury department isn’t crying over it. Pokies generate an abundance of revenue to help cover budget costs and community projects. To take away any of the state’s 27,372 poker machines would guarantee a reduction in that funding, and that’s something no Australia government has been historically willing to compromise on.
Jennifer Kanis, a former Labor MP and lawyer for Maurice Blackburn, agreed with the decision, calling it a “significant” turn of events. She believes the balance has “too long” been tipped in the pokies industry’s favor, and that this will help level the playing field.
“Governments and venues alike have been reluctant to take serious action to ensure a sensible and responsible balance is struck, particularly in vulnerable communities.” Ms. Kanis went on to encourage other states to consider implementing similar locks on their poker machines.