Gambling, and the many harms associated with this activity, has been identified as a priority issue of concern to local government in our strategic plan and through our State Council resolution process.
The increasing number and concentration of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) in Victoria’s most socio-economically disadvantaged communities are of particular concern to councils. The current regulatory framework for gambling provides little protection to Victoria’s most vulnerable.
Research suggests that EGMs are implicated in around 85 per cent of gambling problems.
Councils have called on us to advocate for a number of changes and improvements to the current regulatory system.
This includes advocating for the Victorian Government to amend the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 to:
- require decision-makers at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) to consider the social and economic impacts of increasing densities of EGMs in vulnerable communities at the local level or census collection district level
- require community benefits to be genuine and benefit those at most risk of harm from EGM gambling. The applicant would also be required to prove that there is a positive community benefit from increasing the number of EGMs, as opposed to the current 'will not be detrimental' test
- prohibit applications for new or increased numbers of EGMs in local communities (at suburb or statistical local area level) with below-average socio-economic indexes for areas scores where the EGM density is currently above, or will become above, the state average.
While the Gambling Regulation Act provides councils with the right to raise their concerns with the VCGLR about the social and economic impacts of proposed new or additional EGMs in their municipal district, experience has shown that these submissions – which are extremely costly and time-consuming to prepare – are given little weight by decision makers.
Local Government Gambling, Alcohol and Other Drugs Issues Forum
The Local Government Gambling, Alcohol and Other Drug Issues Forum (LGGAODIF) is a network of professionals working for or with local government to prevent and reduce harms associated with gambling, alcohol and other drug use.
The LGGAODIF meets quarterly and aims to build the capacity of the local government sector through advocacy and community engagement.
For details on how to become a member or to for upcoming meeting dates visit the public health drugs and alcohol page.
2017 Alcohol, Gambling, and Family Violence Forum
The MAV hosted an Alcohol, Gambling, and Family Violence Forum for Local Government in March.
The forum took a targeted approach directed at examining the emerging links between family violence, alcohol, and gambling. It was aimed at assisting local government in the development of upcoming Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans. Presenters focused on research in this area, harms associated with alcohol and gambling and impacts on local communities.
The forum brought together council staff from public health, community safety and PVAW sectors, allowing for cross-sector communication, collaboration and dialogue.
Presentation of gambling research reports
This 2015 presentation (PowerPoint - 589KB) was provided by Dr Charles Livingstone and Louise Francis from Monash University to introduce the gambling research reports below.
The following reports were commissioned by the MAV to inform our advocacy approach on reducing community harm from EGMs.
Report on electronic gambling machine applications
This report helps inform our work with local government in seeking a more transparent and fair system of EGM licence regulation and decision-making in Victoria.
The publication was prepared by researchers from Monash University and explores how the VCGLR evaluated EGM applications based on social and economic benefits balanced with factors identified as detrimental to the community.
Monash University posits that the economic or financial benefits of applications are more persuasive to VCGLR determinations than arguments based on social factors detrimental to the community, which are often poorly quantified for lack of available evidence.
Read the entire report: Review of electronic gambling machine applications (Word - 1.61MB).
Evidence report and discussion on issues relating to electronic gambling machines
This report has three topics which are addressed through discussion of available evidence on:
- Reducing maximum bets on EGMs – Based on the available evidence, it appears that a reduction of maximum bets to one dollar would have little effect on so-called 'recreational' gamblers and would have a positive effect for 'problem' gamblers who consistently bet at levels above one dollar.
- Community Benefits allocations by Victorian club gambling venues – Over 70 per cent of the community benefit claims listed by clubs is allocated to operating costs of the venues themselves.
- Effects of further local caps on EGM numbers on gambling harm – Based on the evidence, there is a case to be made for a freeze or falling cap on EGMs in areas of disadvantage.
Read all three reports: Evidence report and discussion on issues relating to electronic gambling machines (Word - 1.35MB).
Alliance for Gambling Reform
The MAV and 17 councils joined the Alliance for Gambling Reform following on from the Enough Pokies campaign.
The Alliance seeks to secure a $1 maximum bet on poker machines, a suite of complementary harm reduction measures, and increased local government and community say over the planning and licencing approval of poker machine gambling.
The MAV has sought advice on changes to legislation that would be required. The changes we are seeking are simple and easily implemented, and include allowing the VCGLR and councils enough time to properly consider and respond to applications, as well as requiring the applicant to meet the social and economic impacts tests – instead of the council trying to prove that there will be detriment to the local community.
For more information, contact:
03 9667 5512