Tuesday, April 02, 2013

pokies policy out for comment

report from the roundtable – 26 mar

At the most recent council meeting councillors endorsed the draft Gambling Policy and draft Electronic Gaming (Pokie) Machine Guidelines to go out for public consultation. I was pleased to be able to second the motion.

The policy was well overdue for a review, with our existing policy written back in 2002. There’s been many a change in the regulatory environment since 2002. The intention of the policy is to assist council in its role in assessing Pokie Machine applications specifically around the determination of any net social or economic detriment or benefit from new Pokie Machines through conducting a Social and Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA).

The policy highlights Council’s legislative mandate to protect and enhance health and wellbeing outcomes of the community.  

The policy does not replace council’s Local Planning Policy for Gaming Machines which sits within the planning process for pokie machines, this policy is about applications for new pokie machines as opposed to planning permit applications (generally the two processes run in parallel though).

When council gets an application for new pokie machines the first thing we need to determine is whether to submit a SEIA to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). The SEIA needs to assess the positive and negative economic and social impacts to the community. The SEIA needs to take into account community vulnerabilities and risks such as low socio economic status, co-morbidity factors, social isolation, a lack of financial resilience, the number of pokie machines that already exist in the community, research findings, demographics and any other key factors. It should also take into account the views of the general community. It is complex, but so are the issues and impacts around pokie machines in our community.

The most important thing about the SEIA is that it is prepared objectively so it can stand up to scrutiny at a hearing at the VCGLR.

The policy has been informed by the recent community engagement undertaken in relation to an application for pokie machines in Healesville.  

It’s important that council hears from the community, we want to know what you think. The policy and guidelines will be out for comment for 6 weeks.

If you’d like to read the draft documents you can find a copy here. You can submit your comments to mail@yarraranges.vic.gov.au. I encourage you to do so, it’s important that we hear from you.

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