Wednesday, March 21, 2012

moneyless pokies ban a win for community

The Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) welcomes the move by the Government to ban moneyless Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) in Victoria over the next decade.

Moneyless EGMs fall into a loophole for gambling regulation, as they do not pay out cash prizes, so are not covered by the Gambling Regulation Act 2003. Whilst they look identical to conventional pokie machines, they have been modified so no cash winnings are paid.

Our concerns about moneyless EGMs is that they could be placed in shopping centres and children's amusement centres and can act as a form of "gambling on training wheels" for children. Moneyless pokies can normalise gambling for young people.

Wider community concern about this issue is high with the outrage expressed abouts sports betting advertising at sports venues and television recently.

The increase in poker machine numbers, their concentration in disadvantaged areas, the rise in problem gambling, the lack of council planning control over pokie venues, the negative economic impacts and the lack of independent research in the impacts of gambling have all become concerns for local government.

The Local Government Working Group on Gambling (LGWGOG), convened by the VLGA, has also heard concerns regarding other pokie-like forms of gambling that might slip through regulation loopholes. The group wrote earlier this year to the Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Committee and the Minister for Gaming on the issue of Lucky Envelope Machines or Lucky Ticket Vending Machines. These machines are considered a minor form of gambling so their number and location are not regulated by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

The industry is branching out in many different forms of gambling as new technologies arise and it is difficult for regulators and policy makers to stay on top of it. Any form of gambling that normalises gambling for minors should be regulated and the VLGA commends the state government for this action.

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