Council endorses plan to cut gambling harm

New Policy Adopted

Brimbank Council will work to reduce gambling harm and continue its push for regulatory reform under a new Brimbank Electronic Gambling Policy adopted this week.

Brimbank Mayor Cr Lucinda Congreve said Council wanted to reduce the economic, social and health damage to our community caused by decades of electronic gambling losses our community cannot afford.

“It is unacceptable that Brimbank continues to experience the highest Electronic Gambling Machine – or EGM – losses in Victoria, particularly so when you consider that we are also home to some of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged communities.

“Last financial year $139.5 million was lost on Brimbank EGMs – that’s $382,000 every single day of the year.

“Through this policy – we will seek to reduce the harms that these losses inflict on our community,” Cr Congreve said.

Council doesn’t control approval or operation of EGMs but does have a role in lobbying for better regulation. EGMs are regulated by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR); while other forms of electronic gambling are regulated by the Federal Government.

There are 953 EGMs in Brimbank – the maximum allowable under State Government regulations.

The Brimbank Electronic Gambling Policy sets out three objectives to reduce gambling harm:

  • Advocate to Federal and State Governments for a safer gambling environment and stronger regulatory reforms to prevent and reduce harm.
  • Minimise the impact of electronic gambling and promote alternatives that have positive economic, social and health outcomes.
  • Increase understanding of gambling-related harms and act to gambling related harm.

Within each objective are a number of commitments – including disallowing any new EGMs on Council-owned land, advocating for regulatory reform to reduce EGM numbers and increased harm reduction measures.

Cr Virginia Tachos said the policy also included a range of actions supporting advocacy, local research, community education and harm minimisation.

“We need better information about the impact of gambling harm on our local community –Council will work with a range of partners to better understand how gambling affects our community and to help educate the broader community about gambling risks and alternatives.

“Council acknowledges that many clubs with EGMs also play an important social role – we want to work with current venue operators to reduce gambling harm.

“We understand that gambling is a legal form of entertainment that is also regulated at both a Federal and State level – this Council policy focuses on a public health response, reducing the potential harm and risks to our community,” Cr Tachos said.

The policy was adopted at the 21 May 2019 Council meeting, following a three-month consultation period which finished in February 2019. Cr Congreve thanked everyone who had made submissions on the draft policy.