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Victorian State Minister under fire over Best Online Casino Singapore pokies

GAMING Minister John Pandazopoulos is under pressure to resign amid anger over Victoria’s multi-billion-dollar addiction to pokies.

Victorians lost $2.366 billion on poker machines last financial year – up $195 million on the previous year.

Premier Steve Bracks yesterday conceded pokie losses by Victorians probably would continue to climb.

But he defended his Government’s reliance on gaming taxes, saying services would have to be cut without them.

But it was Mr Pandazopoulos who was attacked for describing the slight dip in the growth rate of losses from 11 to 9 per cent as “good news for the community”.

Anti-gambling activists and the Opposition yesterday lashed out at the minister and accused the Bracks Government of being addicted to gambling revenue.

Opposition gaming spokesman Ted Baillieu called on Mr Pandazopoulos to resign.

“Minister Pandazopoulos is the worst gaming minister in Australia,” he said.

“He’s completely inept and may as well resign.”

Mr Baillieu said the Government had failed to keep its promise to cut its reliance on gambling revenue.

The Government had also failed to cap machine numbers in regional centres as promised before the election.

“It’s increased dramatically since they came to office,” he said.

“They are more reliant than ever. They are addicted to gambling.

“The centrepiece of this government’s gaming policy was going to be regional caps in

Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo — and there are none.”

Anti-gambling crusader the Rev Tim Costello branded the $2.366 billion loss as “at proportions where it’s evil” and attacked Mr Pandazopoulos’s “good news” comments.

“It’s a culpable statement,” he said. “He has known and the Government has known what to do to protect problem gamblers and they have wilfully failed to do it.” “They continue to pretend to be concerned about problem gambling and cover through their rhetoric the fact they are reaping dollars,” Mr Costello said.

But Mr Pandazopoulos stood by his comments, insisting the slight drop in the growth rate was a positive trend.

“This is the lowest growth we’ve ever had – and that is good news for the community,” he said.

Mr Bracks admitted the growth in money lost by Victorians to poker Online Casino Singapore machines would probably continue to climb.

“I don’t think it will stop immediately at all. I think it’s still going to increase for some years.

“The rate is increasing but the increase is getting less as the years go on – and that’s good news.

“It is a lot of money, but less of an increase than it was last year.”

Mr Pandazopoulos also defended the Government’s high revenue from poker machines.

He argued the super-profits were better off in the Government’s coffers, being directed back into the community in funding for hospitals and schools, than lining the pockets of gaming industry moguls.

“Poker machines are a legal product, like alcohol and tobacco, heavily taxed by the Federal Government,” he said.

“While 98 per cent of people gamble responsibly, we are tightening regulations aimed at flushing out problem gamblers.”

But Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce spokesman Canon Ray Cleary said the Government was still just “tampering around the edges”.

“We are going to need substantial reform if we are to stem the huge losses of Victorians on gambling,” he said.

He called for the number of poker machines in the state to be halved and for greater regulation.

Independent gambling researcher Dr James Doughney, of Victoria University, said the Government had become dependent on poker machine revenue.

“The Government is a partner in poker machine banditry. They’re addicted . . . and there has been no indication that the Government is likely to change that dependence.”