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Aussie Pokies Spree Outcry

30 September 2002

VICTORIA, Australia -- As reported by The Age: ``The Victorian Government came under pressure yesterday with community groups urging it to take immediate steps to curb poker machine gambling, after another sharp rise in personal losses on electronic gambling machines during the past year.

``The groups want the government to halve or reduce the number of poker machines and reassess and improve its efforts to reduce the number of machines in some poorer areas. The Victorian Greens and local government groups vowed yesterday to make gambling an election issue, with a state poll looking increasingly likely from the end of November.

``…Local government, church and green groups last week attacked the size of the gambling losses - latest figures showed a 17.9 per cent jump since the Bracks Government was elected. They were also highly critical of the government's suggestion the losses reflected high levels of discretionary income.

``Victorians lost $2.56 billion on electronic gaming machines last year, excluding Crown Casino. A Maribyrnong council spokeswoman - the area where the heaviest losses took place - included some of the state's most disadvantaged suburbs.

``The Gaming Minister, John Pandazopolous, told The Sunday Age that while he was not happy with the size of the losses, he would not tell people how to spend their money…"

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