Home Gambling The Council shifts the boundaries of the game | Geelong Independent

The Council shifts the boundaries of the game | Geelong Independent

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The City of Greater Geelong has adopted a policy of minimizing harm from gambling as it moves from its previous electronic gambling policy to encompass games of chance of all types rather than just slot machines, also known as electronic game machines (EGM).

According to data from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), $2.85 billion has been lost on poker machines in Greater Geelong alone in the 30 years since their introduction. Total losses from all forms of gambling during this period push this number even higher.

The policy aims to balance the right to this legal form of revenue-generating entertainment, with the need to promote well-being and address the harm gambling can have on individuals, loved ones and the wider community.

He will advise both Council and the City on all matters surrounding gaming in the area, including responding to requests to the VGCCC to install new EGMs.

Guided by the principles of harm minimization, the policy focuses on reducing the demand for gambling by supporting and promoting alternatives to gambling; reduce supply through the promotion of sound evidence-based planning; and reduce harm by promoting community connection and safety.

The City will assist community or sports clubs/organizations that wish to move away from EGMs or end financial dependence on sponsorship or gambling revenue.

Organizations, clubs and groups that do not receive gaming revenue will be given priority in the council’s community grants program. Gaming activities and slot machine facilities will not receive subsidies.

Internet filters will be installed and maintained to prevent access to gaming sites on all public wifi in the city.

The Council will ask the Victorian Government to review the current EGM regional cap in Greater Geelong.

Community consultation on the draft policy took place between October 2021 and January 2022, resulting in 69 submissions received. Of these, 40 were supportive, five were neutral and 24 opposed the policy.

Cr Sarah Mansfield, Chair of the Community Health and Aged Care Portfolio, said while not all gambling is harmful, some community members suffer from financial stress, homelessness, poor health and relationship breakdowns.

“The amount of money lost in our municipality is simply staggering,” said Cr Mansfield.

“Problem gambling is a growing concern in our community and it is an issue that particularly affects young people.”

“There are a wide range of views on this subject, but the council has a responsibility to promote and protect the health and well-being of the community and this policy will help us in that endeavour.”

An action plan will now be developed to ensure effective implementation of the policy, involving additional community engagement and education, as well as community grant opportunities for targeted projects.