Brimbank calls for gambling reform


Brimbank Council is making a strong call to the Victorian Government, and also to the Federal Government, for stronger regulation of addictive electronic gaming machines.

Problem gambling is a serious public health issue and Council is extremely concerned that Brimbank has the highest electronic gaming machines losses of any Local Government Area in Victoria, Brimbank Mayor Cr John Hedditch said.

Heavy Toll of Gambling

“In 2015-2016, $143,045,743 was lost on electronic gaming machines in Brimbank – that’s $905 for every adult in Brimbank,” Cr Hedditch said.

“This community simply can’t tolerate the devastating financial and social impacts of these huge losses.

“In 2015-2016 around 44 per cent or more than $63 million* of these huge losses went straight to the Victorian Government Treasury. Year after year Council, police and other local social support services are left to mop up the mess.”

Council Advocating for Brimbank's Community

The newly elected Brimbank Council has signed up to put its Community First and today is making a strong call to the Victorian Government, and also to the Federal Government, for stronger regulation of addictive electronic gaming machines, by:

  • imposing daily limits on cash withdrawals at venues
  • making Responsible Gambling Codes of Conduct enforceable by law and
  • strengthening pokie venue inspection and auditing regimes.

Council yesterday approved a submission to a State Government consultation paper seeking feedback on how regulations could be improved to better protect problem gamblers from the harm caused by gaming machines.

In its submission to the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing’s (OLGR) Gaming Machine Harm Minimisation Measures Consultation, Council says current cash withdrawal limits of $200 per transaction should be tightened. Currently, gaming venue patrons can go back multiple times during the day and keep withdrawing an additional $200.

Daily Limits

Council recommended introducing a daily transaction limit on EFTPOS withdrawals at gaming venues.

“Evidence shows that problem gamblers are more likely to have multiple EFTPOS withdrawals per gambling session, so a daily withdrawal limit would support vulnerable people to better limit the amount of money they spend,” Cr Hedditch said.

Council’s submission also called for Responsible Gambling Codes of Conduct to be enforceable by law – with regulation similar to the model covering venues with liquor licenses under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998.

Under this model, venues that breached the code could face fines or and/or license cancelation or suspensions.

Councils Want Stronger Inspection of Venues

“Based on the Victorian Auditor General’s recent report on pokies, Council wants to see a much stronger regime of inspection and auditing of pokies venues by the relevant Victorian government agency to ensure pokie venue operators fully comply with the regulations – now and into the future,” Cr Hedditch said.

“While Council reluctantly acknowledges that Electronic Gaming Machines are a legal form of entertainment in Victoria, Council is very concerned about the devastating harm problem gambling continues to cause to our community.

“These huge losses must be turned around and turned around quickly as the devastating impacts on families, children and individuals have been allowed to go on far too long while the Victorian Treasury fattens its purse off the back of some of the most vulnerable in our community.”

Brimbank's Gambling Policy

The Brimbank Electronic Gambling Policy 2015 outlines Council’s position on electronic gaming to limit the exposure and impact of gaming in the community.

Additionally, Council along with the 60 other members of the Alliance for Gambling Reform advocates for a suite of regulatory reforms to redress the burden of the negative impacts of electronic gambling on the community.

*Source: Victorian Local Governance Association.