Council seeking pokie crackdown
NOOSA Council does not want to blow up the pokies, as the famous song by The Whitlams urged, but it does want the state to give it power to put a brake on gaming machines in the local community.
Noosa councillors will next Tuesday debate a staff recommendation to seek Local Government Association of Queensland backing to allow the council to implement planning schemes to address the social impacts of electronic gaming machines on communities by classifying them as a land use.
Noosa environmental and sustainable development director Kim Rawlings said the potential for a local increase in electronic gaming machines was a "current issue of council concern”.
"In Queensland, the number of gaming machines increased from 20,888 in July 2004 to 24,583 in July 2018,” Ms Rawlings said.
"The amount of money lost (annually) by players of gaming machines has also increased during this period from $68,520,536 to $93,725,270.
"The continued increase in the number of gaming machines raises significant concerns at a local level.”
Ms Rawlings said research suggested problem users were significantly more likely to experience depression as a result of gambling, experience disruptions to family, social lives, work and study, and have debts due to gambling.
"There is some evidence that gambling, especially on poker and gaming machines, has led to social problems in society, such as personal financial pressures, emotional distress, domestic violence, employment difficulties, suicide and crime,” she said.
Mr Rawlings said gaming machine regulation was through the State Government's Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.
"Currently the only input local governments and communities in Queensland have into gaming machine control is by providing comment on applications to OLGR, this however is only for applications of 20 or more gaming machines where in a club and 10 or more where in a pub.”
Ms Rawlings said applications for less electronic gaming machines weare not publicly notified for comment and "no social impact study is required of the applicant”.
"This situation creates a significant risk for local communities whereby incremental increase in EGMs can occur without any public or council input or consideration of the local context and potential social harm,” she said.
"In Victoria, electronic gaming machines have been considered a land use for nearly 10 years.
"Most local governments in Victoria now require a fullsocial impact assessment on any new gaming facilities.”
If councillors vote to support this motion the following motion will be put forward at the LGAQ state conference: "That the Local Government Association of Queensland advocates to the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning to amend planning legislation to define electronic gaming machines as a land use and permit planning schemes to address both the land use as well as the social impacts of electronic gaming machines on communities”.