Australia: Wyndham Council bans pokies near social housing

The policy aims to avoid the concentration of EGMs.
The policy aims to avoid the concentration of EGMs.

The council of Wyndham, in the state of Victoria, has issued a new policy to restrict how closely pokies venues can be established to social housing.

Australia.- In order to manage the concentration of Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM), the council of Wyndham plans to ban pokies within 400 meters from social housing, shopping centres and services used by people with gambling harm related issued.

After obtaining approval from the Minister of Planning, the committee plans to incorporate the gaming policy as part of its planning scheme.

It also seeks to prevent the establishment of new electronic gambling machines in growth areas subject to the jurisdictional structure plan until they are “sufficiently established to overcome any significant uncertainties related to adjoining land uses, proximity to sensitive uses and potential for social and economic impacts on the emerging local community“.

According to councillor Jennie Barrera Wyndham has 903 electronic gambling machines, which earned $61m in the 2020-21 financial year.

Barrera stated: “While gambling can be (an) ordinary past-time for some, it is associated with addiction and harmful outcomes for others.”

She added: “Substantial research now indicates that gambling addiction doubles the risk of a person missing a mortgage repayment, leads to higher levels of unemployment, higher levels of family violence and poorer long-term health outcomes.”

WA authorities question differences between pokies and EGMs

As the Perth Casino Royal Commission continues investigating Crown’s suitability to hold a gaming licence, it’s now looking at the allowance of EGMs at the casino venue.

Some experts say EGMs can be just as addictive as pokies (slots), which have been banned in Western Australia since 1985. EGMs are only allowed at Crown Perth, which has 2,500.

According to financial reports, WA gamblers have spent AU$306m on EGMs this year, up 50 per cent when compared to the previous year. However, members of Western Australia’s Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC) are now struggling to differentiate them from pokies.

Committee members acknowledged that these two types of machines have a similar speed of play. Although the pokies have the ball drop and EGMs are more focused on the visual aspect and the ball drop speed is slower. 

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