Council adopts gambling policy

Jennifer Pittorino

Hobsons Bay council has adopted a Gambling Harm Prevention Policy Statement 2023 following community consultation.

The draft policy statement was put out for public consultation in May and June 2023.

A total of 21 responses were received, including 15 from residents, two from gaming venues, two from sporting clubs, a service provider, and a community organisation.

Council said new data showed that $47.95 million was lost on electronic gaming machines in Hobsons Bay during 2022-23 at an average of $131,371 per day. The losses were the highest since 2011-12.

Councillor Matt Tyler said a few changes were made to the policy following th consultation.

“I think one of the really important messages that we received from the majority of submitters is that the community really wants us to take action on this issue,” he said.

“They want state government to take action and they want the federal government to take action in each of those levels of government with different responsibilities as it relates to gambling harm.

“The harm from gambling is, of course, far broader than just the financial losses.

“It has really clear links to family violence, health and well being and also relationships.”

Councillor Pamela Sutton-Legaud said council needs to find alternative activities for the community.

“It’s important that we provide alternatives. It can’t just be about taking something away,“ she said.

“We need to give something because there are reasons why people gamble, often it’s for social reasons.

“And so finding ways to give out community activities that might replace these types of options, I think is something that we’re talking about and how to increase.

“We will need to find alternatives to gambling if we’re going to try to reduce the impact that it’s having the negative impact that it’s having on our community.”

Cr Sutton-Legaud said there are many community groups which can provide alternatives to gambling.

“ There are some wonderful community organisations out there where we’ve got people volunteering and coming to events,“ she said.

“We will continue to advocate to state and federal governments for changes that will reduce harm to all residents within our community.“