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Gambling is a recreational activity, enjoyed by a large number of residents. However, unlike many other recreational activities, gambling has the potential to generate negative social and economic impacts for the participant, their family and friends and the wider community
The City of Ballarat has joined with the majority of other Victorian councils, the Salvation Army and the Interchurch Taskforce on Gambling in a campaign for reform called ‘Enough Pokies in Vulnerable Communities’.
The campaign seeks to address the uneven playing field faced by Councils and communities when it comes to the consideration of electronic gaming machine applications by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR).
Councils are saying enough to the burden of pokies gambling harm upon individuals and families, particularly in vulnerable communities. Per adult expenditure on poker machines in our municipality is significantly higher than both metropolitan and regional averages for Victoria. Last year a total of $53 million was lost on Ballarat poker machines, that’s equivalent to $147,000 every day. Estimates from the Australian Productivity Commission (2010) attribute between 42 and 75 percent of pokies losses to people who experience moderate to severe gambling harm.
To stem the flow of pokies into vulnerable communities and lessen the extent of gambling losses, the campaign seeks urgent changes to the processes by which applications for pokies are considered and approved, including:
Extending the timeframes for Councils to respond to pokies applications
Reviewing the assessment of community benefit so that it no longer unfairly provides advantage to an applicant over a council or community
Greater emphasis on social effects of EGM applications, with particular scrutiny in disadvantaged communities and growth corridors
Reconsideration of the role of the VCGLR as a ‘specialist’ decision maker
These measures would enable councils to stand up for their community against the installation of pokies in disadvantaged communities, providing a fairer means for assessing applications and easing the burden of gambling losses for vulnerable residents.
The community is invited to support the campaign by speaking to local candidates about how they intend to help protect vulnerable communities from pokies gambling harm.
These day's gambling's a whole new ball game. Exposure to gambling has increased dramatically, with spending on advertising of sports betting reportedly increasing 300 percent between 2010 and 2012. And now it's easier than ever to gamble anywhere, anytime.
Gambling's Not the Game is a social media campaign to get sporting clubs and the general community talking about the issue of gambling and considering that we all have a role to play in creating safer gambling environments.
As part of this initiative, Ballarat sporting clubs became the first in Victoria to sign up to a Responsible Gambling Charter, making a commitment to minimise the exposure of gambling activities and advertising to young people, and raising awareness about the potential risks of gambling in the club community.
Children and Family Services (CAFS) provides counselling services for anyone who is affected by out-of-control gambling behaviour, including problem gamblers, their family members, friends and colleagues.
CAFS is located at 115 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat and can be contacted on 03 5337 3333.
The Responsible Gambling Guide
During Responsible Gambling Awareness Week the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation launched a new Responsible Gambling Guide. Designed as an easy to read resource that explores different kinds of gambling, dispels myths and provides tips for responsible gambling, the guide can be used by parents and educators. You can find more information, including the guide and associated fact sheets at Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation website.
The assessment of EGM applications is an important duty of local governments for a number of reasons. The issues, concepts, regulations and procedures involved around gaming machines are complex, interrelated, unclear and contradictory. Provision of local policies and decision guidelines guide Council, the community and applicants in decision making. Applicants and venues may be unclear or have difficulty providing the right type of data that is credible and rigorous enough to enable a sound assessment by the responsible authority. Without relevant and rigorous information it is not possible for Council to establish whether an application will provide, on balance, positive benefits - as per the Planning and Environment Act 1987 - or whether the application, on balance, will not be detrimental to the community - as per The Gambling Regulation Act 2033.
The City of Ballarat Gaming Machine Community Policy
The City of Ballarat Gaming Machine Community Policy has been developed to ensure an appropriate balance is struck between providing access to Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) and their recreational benefits, and Council's broaderresponsibilities relating to community well-being and health.
Alternatively, copies can be obtained from Customer Service, The Phoenix Building, 25 Armstrong Street South, Ballarat.
The City of Ballarat Gaming Policy Framework
The Ballarat Gaming Policy Framework has been developed in response to changes to the State Planning Policy Framework that enables councils to have a greater input into decisions related to the location of electronic gaming machines. The City of Ballarat has prepared Amendment C154 to the Ballarat Planning Scheme. The amendment implements the Ballarat Gaming Policy Framework (2011). For full details of the Council resolution please email@example.com or contact the Strategic Planning Unit on 03 5320 5536.
Ballarat Responsible Gambling Committee
The Ballarat Responsible Gambling Committee (BRGC) is a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas between stakeholders in the City of Ballarat, to identify issues and facilitate the development of strategies and initiatives to promote responsible gambling.
Membership is drawn from key representatives from agencies and organisations including community service organisations, local gaming venue representatives and community representatives.
The Committee meets four times per year to:
Encourage public discussion and debate which builds knowledge and understanding of local responsible gambling and problem gambling issues.
Facilitate and undertake local research to inform policy development and Council decision-making on gambling issues.
Collaboratively develop strategies and initiatives to minimise harm and to promote responsible gaming/customer care practices.
Facilitate linkages between gaming venues and community organisations to maximise community benefits from gambling.
Advocate for and recognise best practice in responsible gambling at venue level.