In October 2017 the Greater Bendigo Council endorsed the 2017 – 2021 Greater Bendigo Health and Wellbeing Plan. A key priority in this plan is reducing harm from gambling.
In December 2017 Council supported a project to update its current Gaming Policy Framework- “Accessible but not Convenient”. Research for the new policy included:
- A review of the current policy
- An economic impact assessment
- A social impact assessment
- Identification of current best practice
- Benchmarking with other Victorian Local Governments
Harm from gambling impacts not only on the individual but also affects family members, friends, local businesses and communities. A report released in 2016 by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation shows that gambling presents a significant burden to the wellbeing of the Victorian community. Comparisons to other conditions confirm that gambling has an impact in the same class as depression and excessive alcohol consumption. A key learning since the previous policy has been that harm from gambling occurs across a continuum from no harm to very severe levels of harm, rather than just to those who are classified a “problem gamblers”.
Whilst the new draft policy aims to address the impacts of gambling in all forms, there is a focus on Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM) as they are still the most dominant source of financial loss and harm in Australia and their use can be influenced by Local Governments.
In 2018/2019, $50,671,968 was lost on EGMs in Greater Bendigo. There are 11 hotels and clubs in Greater Bendigo who jointly operate 661 machines. The 2019 Active Living Census asked respondents how often, if at all, they had gambled in the last 12 months. It found 34.9% of respondents had gambled in the last twelve months and 5.5% indicated they gambled every week.
The draft policy aims to minimise harm through:
- Supply reduction
- Demand reduction
- Harm reduction
We would appreciate your responses to the draft policy and any ideas you may have that might improve its impact.
Submissions closed on Friday August 6, 2021 and Council adopted the revised policy on December 13, 2021.