Gambling in Brimbank Reaches All Time High
Here is more reason for councillors to have supported the motion on pokies that I put to the chamber in February 2009 to increase the differential rate on commercial gaming venues in Brimbank.
It has been revealed that Brimbank has hit number one in poker machine losses to the state and the misery and tragedy are enormous and increasing.
Gaming is a significant community problem now in Brimbank and affects the entire community, not just problem gamblers. As we all know Gambling related problems are mainly associated with Electronic Gaming Machines (better known as pokies). According to our Council 2006 Policy, Brimbank is ranked third on the SEIFA scale of disadvantage in Victoria (click here to view Policy). And despite a low density rank of 7.3 pokies per 1000 adults, gaming losses are significantly higher than areas with higher machine densities and are now the most severe of any municipality in the state with $58 million spent on its 953 poker machines in the first five months of the 2008-09 financial year.
Council's Gambling Policy Statement and Gambling Action Plan 2006-2009 recognises that while gambling is a legitimate form of leisure and entertainment, it is also can have terrible consequences for people, their families and the broader community. The Policy seeks to integrate this policy position into all key plans and strategies.
A differential rate levied on commercial gaming venues would be one method of integrating Council’s policy position into our strategies, making it less attractive for venues to profit from pokies in our municipality.
Moreland City Council has recently introduced such a rate (click here to see what they've achieved). And I had hoped to see overwhelming support behind this idea here in Brimbank. Unfortunately it was not supported and Council instead moved to seek a briefing from officers on
the possibility of a differential rate for commercial gaming properties and
the possibility of the rate being levied at twice the commercial industrial rate.
But I must say I'm getting tired of my fellow councillors deferring for yet another briefing, instead of informing themselves on such critical issues prior to council meetings. Time and again they have effectively deferred the No Vote until a later date, allowing a public decision to be removed from its currency and context.
See recent story in The Brimbank Leader, 'Brimbank pokies raining millions' 04/08/2009
Perhaps for the sake of contrasting it to the responsible and responsive leadership that Moreland City Council have demonstrated
'Pokies tax plan for Moreland', Moreland Leader 18/05/2009
The motion on pokies that I put to the chamber in February 2009 sadly did not yield a seconder.