It’s been a rollercoaster year. Lockdown lasted 238 days in Victoria, and while it’s certainly been tough, for many it’s also been a period of significant relief. For the first time in nearly three decades, 27,000 poker machines were switched off across our state and we collectively saved $1.8 billion from being taken out of the community.
On Monday, poker machines reopened in Victoria and while we’re disappointed governments did not heed our call to use this moment to rethink and reset the role of gambling in our communities, we did see some temporary harm reduction measures introduced, including venue operating limits of 16 hours per day.
Victoria was the only state to introduce such protective measures and this will undoubtedly stem the tidal wave of harm seen in other states. This is a positive sign on the gambling reform front! With a new Minister responsible for gambling comes a new opportunity to bring community perspectives into the policy-making process.
As the year draws to a close, we’re focused on learning the lessons of lockdown and building upon the current measures to achieve long term, sustainable outcomes for the entire community. In 2021, that means continuing to push for sensible reforms like shorter opening hours and banning sports gambling ads.