VICTORIA'S pokies clubs are voluntarily spending on average just five cents a day on problem gambling prevention despite raking in $891 million a year.
The state's 263 poker machine venues, including many AFL clubs, are required by law to provide a range of responsible gambling measures, but a report shows they are collectively spending only $5000 a year voluntarily.
The chairman of the Victorian InterChurch Gambling Taskforce, Mark Zirnsak, has branded the spending level a ''joke''
''This laughable level of voluntary spending to curb problem gambling by clubs makes a complete joke of Clubs Australia's claims about clubs in Victoria being serious about addressing the problem,'' Dr Zirnsak said.
''It would appear pretty obvious they are spending much more on spin about how they care about people with gambling problems than they are actually choosing to spend to address the problem, based on their own community benefit statements.''
Figures on how much clubs are spending voluntarily on problem gambling measures are given in the annual report of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
Dr Zirnsak said that despite its low spending on problem gambling, Clubs Australia was trumpeting on a website that ''thousands of clubs across Australia are working hard to reduce problem gambling''.
He said the figures showed that if the clubs were working hard to reduce problem gambling, it was because government was making them do it.
More government action was needed to curb problem gambling, he said, including the introduction of a system that allowed gamblers to set themselves enforceable loss limits and machines that did not allow people to lose more than $1 a spin.
Clubs Victoria executive director Richard Evans said the amount clubs were spending voluntarily to prevent problem gambling was not a true reflection of the work clubs were doing to prevent their members developing gambling problems.
''Clubs prefer not to have problem gamblers among their members … they will identify them, they will try to help them with programs, and they have a close relationship with the problem gambling community [help groups],'' he said.
Mr Evans said clubs did not want to ''be taking funds from their members in a covert way'' if they had identified them as problem gamblers.
Much of the problem gambling help that clubs provided to members was not recorded in dollars and cents.
''Do they proscribe to all of the requirements under the legislation? Yes. Do they do more? Yes. Is it articulated? No it probably isn't,'' he said.
Mr Evans said there was a big difference in the approaches to problem gambling by non-profit clubs and other venues.
''You can go into a profit-taking venue, sit in a darkened corner and perhaps not be recognised, whereas in a club, you have got to come in, you have got to sign in and you are part of a club arrangement,'' he said.