For many people gambling is a fun recreational activity that can provide short-term relief from pressing problems and stress.
But, it can also add to these issues in the long-term – fueling health and psychological impacts (including anxiety, smoking, drinking), income stress and poverty, family violence, and crime.
With electronic gaming machines (EGM’s) today considered one of the most harmful gambling products in Australia, ‘playing the pokies’ is increasingly being recognised as a public health concern with that harm extending beyond financial losses to health and social issues that impact families, friends, employers, workmates, businesses and the community generally.
Local Government plays an important role in managing the social, economic and health and well-being impacts of gambling in local communities, particularly for EGMs, which is the area it has the most influence in terms of venues located within and adjacent to their boundaries.
There are 471 pokies in nine venues across Maribyrnong taking in millions of dollars each year - $58 million in 2019. This spend is highest in the suburbs of Maidstone and Braybrook – in some of the most disadvantaged areas in our municipality across income and employment.
Council’s draft Reducing Harm from Gambling Policy seeks to address these increasingly recognised harmful impacts from gambling, specifically those associated with playing the pokies (EGMs).
The draft proposes continued advocacy to State Government for gambling reforms; including the introduction of a $1 maximum bet, a system that supports players voluntarily limiting the time and money they spend, and reduced operating hours.
It also seeks to continue the current prohibition of advertising and promotion of gambling and new leases for any new gaming operators on Council-owned land, while working with existing venue operators to restrict any additional pokies on Council-owned land.
Under the updated draft Policy, Council is also proposing to ban official meetings, events or community activities at gaming venues, to ensure everyone is able to attend events funded by ratepayers, including at risk gamblers.
The engagement period has now closed. We will analyse your feedback and prepare a report for council.