Bass Coast,

Council Supports Enough Pokies Campaign

Bass Coast Shire Council has banded together with other Councils across the state to protect vulnerable communities from inappropriate placement of electronic gaming machines, through supporting the Enough Pokies Campaign.

Council is supporting the campaign along with the majority of Victoria’s 79 councils, the Salvation Army and the Municipal Association of Victoria.

Mayor, Cr Kimberley Brown, said the campaign was launched in October and rapidly gained momentum.

“Whilst gambling is a legal form of entertainment in Victoria, one in six people who play the pokies regularly has a serious addiction,” Cr Brown said.

“Links have been established between the number of electronic gaming machines in local government areas and the amount of harm generated from problem gambling.”

There are 216 electronic gaming machines in operation in Bass Coast.

In 2013/14 over $15 million dollars were lost on electronic gaming machines in Bass Coast Shire alone.

“Our goal is harm minimisation,” Cr Brown said.

“Councils and communities across Victoria are frustrated by the current regulatory framework relating to electronic gaming machines administered by the Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

“The current regulations are narrowly interpreted by these bodies and severely impact the ability of councils and communities to influence the granting of poker machine licenses in vulnerable communities.

“The campaign calls on the major parties to commit to making changes to existing legislation.”

There are three specific areas in which regulation change is sought including;

  • the no net detriment test
  • greater emphasis on social effects of EGM applications, with particular scrutiny in disadvantaged communities and growth corridors
  • reconsideration of the role of the VCGLR as a ‘specialist’ decision maker.

Dr Charles Livingstone, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, said electronic gaming machines are a detriment to communities.

“These machines are designed with a single purpose in mind, which is to relieve the user of as much of their money as possible,” Dr Livingstone said.

“When we are losing close to $7 million every day across the state into poker machines, we should start considering them as the business they are, rather than as a form of sustainable entertainment.”

Cr Brown said it is the campaign partners’ view that a strong showing of support through community and media channels by Victorian councils and local community groups will add momentum and weight to this campaign and ultimately, result in a better outcome for vulnerable communities.