Pubs and clubs wanting to add poker machines to their venues will need to consult the community and provide feedback of residents’ views to Hume council under a proposed new gambling harm minimisation policy.
The draft policy, adopted by the council last week, requires all gaming applications to include a community survey.
The survey, formulated by the council, will ask about attitudes to gaming machines, how often people play pokies and the impact they think more machines will have.
Under the proposed policy, council will monitor applications approved by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation for 12 months to ensure gaming expenditure is not greater than estimated in the applications.
The council has offered to work with sports clubs on council-owned land who want to disinvest from gaming.
There are three clubs on council-owned land who have poker machines, while a further two clubs are on land partly owned by council and the crown.
The new policy comes as commission figures reveal that more than $109 million was lost on Hume poker machines in 2017-18, placing it among the top 10 municipalities in Victoria for gaming losses.
The municipality is home to 14 gaming venues and 833 poker machines. But state government legislation allows for another 18 machines to be installed. Sunbury has the highest number of machines (230), followed by Craigieburn (150) and Campbellfield (145).
Cr Joseph Haweil said the draft gambling harm minimisation policy aimed to treat gambling as a public health issue.
“We are completely changing our approach,” he said.
“This policy seeks to reduce negative impacts from gambling and increase community awareness of the risks associated with gambling.”
Residents can have their say on the draft policy throughout June.