Councillors Lambros Tapinos (City of Moreland), Mary Lalios (Whittlesea) and Virginia Tachos (Brimbank), yesterday welcomed the campaign by a group of younger veterans for full pokies divestment by the Victorian RSL, as the City of Moreland secured a pivotal VCAT victory which will force the Glenroy RSL to remove 10 of their 50 pokies.
The three councillors, who have campaigned for better protections and legislation surrounding pokies, called for the current board of the Victorian RSL to implement a ceasefire on their push for new poker machine approvals until after the 4 July RSL State Conference.
“We applaud the work of younger veterans and call on the incumbent Victorian RSL board to embrace their reform agenda and come up with a new long term business model which does not rely on predatory poker machines which continue to harm veterans.”.
“The RSL should be focused on providing welfare services to veterans not pokies”
The three councils of Brimbank, Whittlesea and Moreland, for the period July 2018 to February 2019, collectively lost $223,472,922 through pokies gambling. This amount is staggering, and is the most recent figure from the VCGLR (Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation).
The call from the younger veteran insurgency coincides with the conclusion of a 4-year battle between City of Moreland and Anzac House over 10 extra poker machines at the Glenroy RSL.The Glenroy RSL first applied for the additional pokies in 2015 but after various battles at the VCGLR, VCAT and in the Supreme Court, the push was finally defeated on Thursday when VCAT emphatically rejected the application.
“The 10 additional poker machine were installed by the Glenroy RSL in 2017 after the original VCAT decision but will now have to be removed and potentially sold, which is symbolic of what the wider RSL should now do across Victoria,” Cr Tapinos said.
“The City of Moreland should be applauded for its dogged protection of the Glenroy community from further gambling harm and also calls for the 10 machines to be immediately removed, ideally to coincide with ANZAC Day.” Crs Lalios and Tachos agreed.
RSL Victoria has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting to cause more gambling harm in an already vulnerable Glenroy community when these funds could have been directed to veterans welfare rather than lawyers and gambling consultants.
“After recent failed attempts to expand its pokies empire it is time for the board to take charge at ANZAC House and end the pokies push once and for all so that younger veterans can proudly associate with an organisation doing no harm in the community.” the councillors agreed.
At the very least the Victorian RSL board should commission a full independent audit of the pokies division so members can be informed when they vote at the 4 July State Council.
READ MORE: Victorian government to tackle gambling
Latest figures from the VCGLR from July 2018 to February 2019 (8 months)
BRIMBANK losses $96,068,255.07
MORELAND LOSSES $43,168,892.65
Whittlesea losses $81,235,773.70
Recent Victorian RSL attempts to install additional poker machines.
Glenroy RSL: applied in 2015 to expand its poker machines numbers by 10 to 50 and after various skirmishes at council, the VCGLR, VCAT and in the Supreme Court, the application was finally rejected by VCAT in April 2019 and the 10 additional machines will now have to be removed. City of Moreland suffered $64.17 million in pokies losses in 2017-18, including $4.78 million on the 50 machines at the Glenroy RSL.
Dandenong RSL: Applied for an additional 11 machines in 2018 and this was rejected by both council and the VCGLR
City of Greater Dandenong suffered $121.4 million in losses on the pokies in 2017-18, with $7.65 million of this coming on the existing 63 machines at the Dandenong RSL.
Geelong RSL: council rejected an application for 30 new machines and contested it at the VCGLR which approved the machines in December 2018. City of Greater Geelong suffered record pokies losses of $117.5 million loin 2017-18, and the Geelong RSL contributed $3.37 million from its existing 43 pokies, which is now set to rise.
Altona RSL: council rejected the application for an extra 22 pokies in 2018 & the application was refused by the VCGLR. City of Hobson Bay suffered $47.4 million in pokies losses in 2017-18, with $3.59 million of this coming from the existing 58 pokies at the Altona RSL.
Darebin RSL: applied for an additional 15 pokies in 2017-18. A planning permit for the machines was rejected by council, but a licence to operate them was approved by the VCGLR. Both cases were appealed to VCAT and a decision is imminent after a 5 day hearing. Darebin residents lost $82.1 million on the pokies in 2017-18 and $4.7 million of this came from the existing 65 pokies at the Darebin RSL.