Electronic Gaming Policy

Electronic Gaming Policy Document No: CPL295.11
Approval Date: 23 May 2017
Approved By: Council
Review Date: 23 May 2020
Responsible Officer: Director Community Life Version No 01
Authorising Officer: Chief Executive Officer 

Please note: the Electronic Gaming Policy is currently under review.

Its replacement Draft Gambling Harm Minimisation Council Policy is currently open for community engagement until 17 January 2022. You can read the draft policy and provide feedback via the Have Your Say page

Feedback will be collated and taken into account, with the draft policy scheduled for the 22 February 2022 Council Meeting. 

For more information, please contact Courtney Yam, Social Equity Officer on 03 5272 4941.

1. Purpose

The purpose of the Electronic Gaming Policy (the Policy) is to guide Council responses to gaming proposals and planning applications within the municipality of Geelong. Problem gambling can exist in many gambling contexts, including Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs), table games, horse racing and sports betting. While recognising some positive impacts from electronic gaming on the community, a key objective of the Policy is to reduce the negative impacts of problem gambling resulting from EGMs by:

  • Influencing the location of EGMs within the City of Greater Geelong municipality;

  • Taking an advocacy role in relation to government policies;

  • Adopting a community development role in terms of engaging and informing the community on issues relating to problem gambling harm; and

  • Facilitating research of the extent and effects of problem gambling in the municipality.

2. Scope

When Council receives an application to increase the number of EGMs at a venue a dual assessment processes of social planning and statutory planning is undertaken.

Council’s Policy is focused on the social aspects of gaming and complements the Local Planning Policy Framework provisions for gaming. The Policy has been developed within the legislative frameworks and policy contexts of the State of Victoria. These require Council to facilitate the implementation of ongoing licensing and management of Gaming as a legal activity, in addition to promoting health and wellbeing within the municipality.

Council’s Policy states that when carrying out a social and economic impact assessment (SEIA) of EGMs on residents, it will consider community expectations and/or concerns regarding problem gambling. Council will work to reduce problem gambling in the municipality by:

  • Providing a strategic policy context to assist ongoing implementation and good governance of gaming;

  • Providing leadership by establishing strategic objectives for gaming and monitoring their achievement;

  • Providing an evidence base for decision making; and

  • Improving the quality of life of residents by promoting community wellbeing, applying community development principles of equity and access, and limiting disadvantage via the implementation of the ‘no net-detriment test’.

Promoting the economic, social, cultural and environmental viability and sustainability of the municipality; and assisting applicants to understand Council’s objectives and decision making processes, and the requirements for the operation of gaming venues within the municipality.

Applications for new gaming venues and increasing the number of EGMs in existing venues, will be considered on the merits of each proposal.

Council will undertake all activities with respect to gaming in accordance with Council’s Electronic Gaming Policy; Greater Geelong Planning Scheme (particularly clause 21.07, 22.57 and 52.28) and the Gambling Regulation Act (2003).


3. References

  • City Plan (2011–2020)

  • Greater Geelong Planning Scheme, particularly clauses 21.07, 22.57 and 52.28

  • Greater Geelong Gaming Policy Framework (2007)

  • Gambling Regulation Act (2003)

  • Local Government Act (1989)

  • Public Health and Wellbeing Act (2008)

  • Planning and Environment Act (1987)

  • City of Greater Geelong Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan (2013–2017)

  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006)

  • Productivity Commission Inquiry Report – Gambling (2010)

  • Prevalence of Problem Gambling from a Public Health Perspective – Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (2014)

4. Definitions

This Policy provides Council with a policy position to assess gaming applications and their potential impact across the municipality and in local areas.

The following definitions are used in analysis of data for the purpose of this Policy:

  • Application: An application, or a proposed application, for a planning permit and/or approval from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) for: a new gaming venue; an increase in EGMs; extension of opening hours at an existing venue.

  • Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM): Any device, whether wholly or partly mechanically or electronically operated for the purpose of playing a game of chance or a game of mixed chance and skill. As a result of making a bet on the device, winnings may become payable.

  • Gaming Venue: A hotel or club approved by the VCGLR as a premises suitable for EGM gambling.

  • Harm minimisation: Minimising harm to people. The three core elements of harm minimisation are supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction:

    • Supply Reduction: Achieving appropriate EGM/1,000 adult population densities;

    • Demand Reduction: Promoting a balance of recreation pursuits, community education (for instance, gambling risks); and

    • Harm Reduction: Promoting gamblers help services; promoting responsible gambling and advocating for inbuilt safety mechanisms in EGMs.

  • No disadvantage: A health and wellbeing status which is not significantly different in comparison to other residents on average in the State of Victoria.

  • No significant disadvantage: A state whereby there are no significant differences between City of Greater Geelong indicators and those for the State of Victoria. Indicators may include the SEIFA, gaming industry ratios such as EGM per 1,000 head of adult population and EGM expenditure per 1,000 head of adult population.

  • Relative Advantage/Disadvantage: Relative ranking (as described by SEIFA), either of small areas as defined in this policy within the municipality of Greater Geelong, or Greater Geelong in comparison to the State of Victoria.

  • Public Health: Science and art of preventing disease, promoting a positive state of health through the organised efforts of informed choices of society, organisations (public and private), communities and individuals. In doing so it considers the social, environmental, political and economic conditions that affect population and individual health.

  • No Net Detriment Test: A test that requires that the VCGLR be satisfied that the net economic and social impact of an approval to increase the number of EGMs will be either neutral or positive.

5. Council Policy

Council’s Policy is based on a number of principles:

  • Gaming is a legal activity with the State of Victoria that is to be considered within the context of public health and consumer protection.

  • Problem gambling is a public health issue affecting the community, not just the individual.

  • The impact of gaming should not be unevenly distributed in particular communities or populations.

  • Along with the Borough of Queenscliffe, the City of Greater Geelong is currently a capped region, which together cannot have more than 1,421 EGMs. Should there be a review of this cap, Council will argue for no increase in this cap while the municipality remains above the state average for the number of EGMs per adult head of population.

  • While there is an uneven spread of EGMs in the municipality, Council will discourage an increase in the number of machines in areas where disadvantage (SEIFA levels) and EGM/adult density is higher than the State average.

  • Locating EGMs within 400 metres of any ABS collection district that is in the bottom 20% of the most disadvantaged collection districts in Victoria, as identified in the latest SEIFA, will be discouraged.

  • It is preferable that gaming machines are located in areas where the EGM density is equal to or below the municipal average.

  • EGMs should be located proximate to activity centres that serve more than the local catchment and minimise the likelihood that people will pass by venues with EGMs in the course of their usual business.

  • Gaming is carried out in an environment that develops and reinforces a commitment to responsible gambling.

  • Community attitudes towards the effects of increasing EGMs should be surveyed by the applicant when making application.

  • The applicant will provide a thorough SEIA when making application for the establishment of a new gaming venue or for an increase in the number of EGMs in an existing venue.
    Council will take action by:

  • Raising community awareness regarding inherent risks of playing EGMs, the extent of problem gambling and potential harm caused.

  • Supporting state-wide initiatives that aim to make EGMs a safer recreational pursuit.

  • Undertaking or facilitating research into the extent of problem gambling and measures for reducing the level of problem gambling in the community.

  • Developing collaborative mechanisms involving the gambling and problem gambling support sectors, with the aim to reduce potential harm caused by problem gambling.

  • Investigating community attitudes towards gambling and its effects.

  • Advocating to VCGLR to increase the timeframe for Council to conduct necessary research into the SEIA of a gaming proposal. This is in addition to having adequate time to formally consider such applications in the normal course of Council meetings and procedures.

  • Interpreting and applying the VCGLR gaming application requirements to the assessment of gaming applications.

  • Advocating to the State Government for a nil increase to the EGM cap for the City of Greater Geelong municipality.

  • Notifying the VCGLR that it will be submitting a SEIA (social and economic impact assessment), when an application has been received. This notification is made in the context of tight timelines imposed by the State Government to address applications and the need for Council to have time to formally consider applications at regular Council meetings.

6. Quality Records

Quality Records shall be retained for at least the period shown below.

Record Retention/Disposal Responsibility Retention Period Location

7. Attachments

  • 7.1. Background and strategic context for the Electronic Gaming Policy.

  • 7.1.1. Legislation governing gambling

  • 7.1.2. Municipal caps

  • 7.1.3. Community wellbeing

  • 7.1.4. Catchment

  • 7.1.5. Prevalence of problem gambling

  • 7.1.6. Problem gambling in the City of Greater Geelong.

Page last updated: Tuesday, 4 January 2022