By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A one-man campaign against the ‘one-armed bandits’ has become a fight by many.
Berwick man Tom Cummings has enlisted the support of lobby group Alliance for Gambling Reform against an application for 10 extra pokies at Zagame’s Berwick Springs Hotel.
The alliance, which is backed by more than 60 groups and Victorian councils, has set up an online petition on its ‘pokiesplayyou’ webpage.
The web page states the venue, which already has 95 machines, was on track to reap $18 million from pokies in 2017/’18. It was the 10th highest-earning pokies venue in the state.
It states the $125 million lost to pokies in Casey last financial year was “money that could have been spent in our local community”.
“Poker machines hurt people; there is a proven link between poker machines and family violence, depression, divorce and crime.”
Mr Cummings, who has written a popular anti-pokies blog ‘cyenne’ for the past seven years, has also joined the alliance’s board.
“It’s fantastic to have the alliance behind this. It’s going to create so much more awareness.”
Among the alliance backers are Greater Dandenong and Cardinia Shire councils, but not Casey Council.
Alliance spokesman Tom Mohr said the group was supportive of individuals and small groups taking a stand against the spread of pokies.
It is also campaigning against pokies in a proposed hotel at Station Street, Officer, and a similar proposal in Craigieburn.
“There’s already been interest outside of Berwick in this proposal and that’s largely to do with Tom (Cummings).
“We’re keen to use the issue to build community awareness of poker machines around the local community.”
Mr Mohr said it would be difficult to convince the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Reform to knock back the Zagame’s proposal, but “it can be done”.
“We’re starting to see the VCGLR take into consideration the harms and the community objections.
“There is a change happening.”