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Pokies crisis hits Western Sydney.

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Pokies Crisis Hits Western Sydney

Date: 20 November 2000

Senator Helen Coonan has called on the State Government to release more money from the Casino Community Benefit Fund to help the victims of gambling in high risk areas such as Fairfield and Liverpool.

During a visit to the Fairfield area today Senator Coonan said the social consequences of gambling are immediate and severe and go far beyond the individual to eventually impact on family, friends and the local community.

Statistics reported in the media today (November 20) were part of the Federal Government’s productivity commission report into gambling in Australia released nearly 12 months ago, an indication the problem of gambling will only worsen if ignored, Senator Coonan said.

“Areas such as Fairfield and Liverpool are high risk for bearing the brunt of the social consequences of gambling,” she said.

“Besides the massive personal debt incurred from gambling addiction, chronic gambling can lead to destitution, depression and despair which can manifest itself in anti-social behaviour affecting the addict’s family and friends.”

Senator Coonan said the problem is clearly worse than reported in the newspapers today. Figures which indicate $178 is spent per person on gambling in the Fairfield/Liverpool area can only increase in real terms.

“Clearly not every resident of these two high risk areas gambles this much or gambles at all,” Senator Coonan said.

“The total amount of gambling in this area is probably done by a smaller proportion of the community while the rest bear the brunt of the social cost.”

The State Government should immediately open up the coffers and channel more of the money it receives from gambling revenue in NSW into high risk areas such as Liverpool and Fairfield to counter the real cost of gambling, Senator Coonan said.