Former premier hates to say he told us so

The last Premier to say no to the vocal poker machine lobby, John Cain, has declared that the introduction of pokies to Victoria has been to the ‘‘detriment’’ to the state.

Mr Cain, who was Victorian premier for eight years in 1982, says Victorians are utterly addicted to poker machines which is run by  ‘‘a greedy industry exploitative of the low income earners, the vulnerable and the addicted.’’

This weekend marks 20 years since poker machines were introduced into Victoria at the Footscray Football Club and Croydon’s Dorset Gardens Hotel, there are now 27,000 machines in the state.

While the machines were greeted with public support and fanfare in the 1990s, attitudes have changed with Victorians now overwhelmingly supporting the need for better harm minimisation on the machines — over the last three years 40,000 calls have been made to gamblers helpline.

Tomorrow The Saturday Age launches a multimedia series marking the anniversary - featuring news, interviews with key decision makers, video and in-depth, interactive graphics, exploring who has made their fortune out of the pokies revolution, why pokies were allowed into Victoria in 1992 and what is the future of poker machine reform which has been a focus of the federal hung parliament for the past 20 months.

On Monday The Age delves into those who suffer, most often in silence, poker machine addiction, and the other big losers of pokies’ arrival in Victoria.

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