Saturday, August 30, 2014

council supports campaign on pokies

report from the roundtable – 26 aug

A group of councils have got together to campaign for systemic reforms to Electronic Gaming Machines gambling (I’ll be calling them Pokies from here on). 

Part of the ask was a contribution from each local government of $5,000 to put towards the campaign Redressing the Burden of Electronic Gaming Machines.  As chair of the Local Government Working Group on Gambling I was pleased to be able to move the motion to support the campaign.

The campaign will provide legal advice on the proposed systemic changes to the requirement around proof of ‘net community benefit’ in relation to pokies, include a communications strategy and materials councils can use in the lead up to the state election.

The current annual spend on pokies in Yarra Ranges is $26million, when you extrapolate out the problem gambling component it equates to $9.1million. That’s a lot of money out of household budgets and out of our local economy.

Local government has had low levels of success in the regulatory processes related to Pokies applications. The views of local communities and evidence of harmful impacts are difficult to quantify and therefore hard to argue. The timelines for preparing sophisticated social and economic impact statements are extremely short and the onus is on local government not the Pokies applicant.

There’s been a long held frustration by local government at the impact of the regulatory processes and system and our capacity to protect community wellbeing.

I was delighted that councillors voted unanimously to support the motion (and the campaign).

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