The Andrews Labor Government has placed funding for responsible gambling programs on the chopping block, refusing to guarantee them beyond next year.
In a Public Accounts and Estimates hearings today, the Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, refused to guarantee funding beyond 2023/24 for the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF).
The VRGF was established by the former Liberals and Nationals Government in 2012 and provides vital treatment services such as the Gambler’s Help program, raises public awareness of gambling harm and conducts gambling related research.
In a major shift, the VRGF has received just one year’s funding in the State Budget. Previous funding has been provided over four years, allowing the VRGF to plan and provide certainty in the important task of minimising gambling harm.
Shadow Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Danny O’Brien, said the Minister explicitly failed to rule out axing the VRGF, saying the one-year funding was a result of the tight fiscal environment.
When asked by Mr O’Brien if she could guarantee the funding beyond this year, an elusive Minister Horne could only reply: “That would be subject to future decisions of Government”.
Mr O’Brien said the cuts are a direct result of Labor’s financial mismanagement.
The Andrews Labor Government is punishing victims of gambling addiction to prop up its cruel Budget.
“Under Labor, Victoria is broke and now we are seeing services like support for problem gamblers being cut as a result,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Putting an important program like the Responsible Gambling Foundation on the chopping block is unconscionable. The Premier should come out immediately and guarantee ongoing funding for this important program.
“Problem gambling only affects a small proportion of those who like a punt, but it has massive impacts on those affected and their loved ones. This is not a program the Labor Government should be cutting at a time when more households and individuals are under financial pressure and the risks of gambling harm are heightened.”