Northern Beaches Council backs plan to reduce pokies

 

Source: SMH

The mother of a man who took his own life in May after a devastating gambling spree at Dee Why RSL has praised the Northern Beaches Council after it backed a plan to reduce poker machine use – and called on the NSW government to commit to action on the issue.

Joy Van Duinen said she was "really pleased" with the result despite the removal of a controversial clause that would have allowed the council to review the use of pokies in venues on its own land.

Northern Beaches Council has become the second municipality to adopt a harm minimisation policy on gambling.


Northern Beaches Council has become the second municipality to adopt a harm minimisation policy on gambling. Photo: Supplied

Ms Van Duinen attended the meeting and spoke in favour of the policy, after her son Gary took his own life in May – a tragedy his family blames on his gambling addiction.took his own life in May – a tragedy his family blames on his gambling addiction.

She told the council that before her son's death, she had no idea how many other people's lives were destroyed by gambling.

"I was shattered at the number of people affected, the amount of money spent and the heartache it caused families," she said. "My son received no support from the club whatsoever, just encouragement to gamble more." Ms Van Duinen urged councillors to pass the changes laid out in the proposal, including restricting the amount of cash-outs at ATMs, slowing the playtime on machines or each hit of the button, restricting the amount of time people can play, and changing self-exclusion laws from the gambler only to family members or another third party.

The policy was moved by Liberal councillor Pat Daley and Greens councillor Natalie Warren, in what Cr Daley called "an unusual alliance" that "just shows the bipartisan approach to this problem in the community". The move makes the Northern Beaches Council the second council to develop a harm minimisation policy on poker machines.

"This is a real milestone for local government," Cr Daley said. He was prepared to abandon the contentious clause allowing pokies to be banned in venues leased by the council in order to get it passed.

Joy Van Duinen holds a photo of her son Gary, who took his own life after a 13-hour gambling binge.

Joy Van Duinen holds a photo of her son Gary, who took his own life after a 13-hour gambling binge. Photo: Janie Barrett

"I was shattered at the number of people affected, the

It pledged that the government would "retain existing gaming machine operating conditions, with proposed changes subject to a rigorous assessment including cost-benefit analysis and consultation".

Ms Van Duinen agreed that it's time for the state government to "stand up" and make clubs responsible.

"I’m not anti poker machines. I’m anti the harm they do and that clubs don’t step up to the mark," she said.

"It’s just showing a duty of care, that’s what clubs miss out on."

Fairfax Media has approached the NSW government and Clubs NSW for comment.

Those in need of help can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au


 

Upcoming Events
For Sale - Buy - Swap - Rent