Many people wouldn’t know this, but Coles and Woolworths supermarkets operate pokies machines.

This is about to change, with Coles leading the way, by divesting itself of pokies machines.

Cr Mary Lalios, from Whittlesea Council, an advocate for pokies reforms said:“Coles have done the right thing by selling out to a KKR-controlled business called the Australian Venue Company. I hope they will continue the Coles advocacy for the introduction of $1 maximum bets.”

“With Coles having successfully divested, the onus is now on Woolworths, Australia’s biggest and most ruthless pokies operator, to remove itself from the 12,000-plus pokies operated by Bruce Mathieson in the ALH joint venture, which is 75 per cent owned by Woolworths.”

In addition, Cr Lalios said she was also delighted to see the emergence of a campaign by young Victorian veterans to encourage the Victorian RSL to fully divest from the predatory pokies industry.

“It is truly inspiring to see and hear the comments by younger veterans, such as Camberwell City RSL President Dave Petersen, who make a persuasive case for RSL pokies divestment based on both financial and social grounds.”

“There are currently 54 RSL-branded pokies dens in Victoria which are draining more than $200 million a year from gamblers, making RSL Victoria the 3rd biggest pokies operator in the state after Woolworths and Crown Melbourne.”

“The Victorian RSL should get with the program and follow the lead set by Coles, Melbourne Storm, Collingwood, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs and commit to full divestment of their pokies division, which does nothing or very little to help veterans.”

Pokies continue to make headlines with reports peak lobby group the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) made record political donations to the tune of almost $1 million ahead of Victoria’s state election.

With a Federal Election just around the corner, now is the time to take a stand.

It is reported the AHA imposed a one-off levy on pub poker machine license holders to help bankroll political donations, effectively funnelling community losses directly into the pockets of major-party and some independent candidates seeking election.

Following record donations in the Tasmanian and South Australian elections, and the AHA spending undisclosed sums in an attempt to influence voting in the recent NSW elections too, it’s clear the socially damaging gambling industry is seeking to buy influence over our politics like never before.

Poker machines are crippling communities and the gambling industry is using losses to stop reforms to reduce gambling harm. We must demand better of our elected leaders.

Sign the petition to call on major parties to rule out accepting gambling industry money once and for all.

Most Australians would be outraged to learn that gambling industry profits are increasingly being used to garner political influence.

Together we must take a stand and demand those elected to represent us do not accept political ‘donations’ from the gambling industry, just as they don’t with other harmful industries like tobacco.

This Federal Election, let’s tell our elected leaders not to profiteer from the harm of the communities they seek to represent