Victoria Councils Seek Slot Curbs

At least 20 local councils in the Australian state of Victoria are revising their planning laws to keep gaming machines out of poorer neighborhoods. Most of the councils want to see similarly tough rules at the state level, but the state’s top regulator says no changes are planned.

Municipal councils in the Australian state of Victoria are revising planning laws in an attempt to stop the expansion of slot machines into poor communities.

At least 20 councils have submitted planning amendments to the state government for approval. Some of the tougher provisions include keeping the devices out of areas of “socio-economic disadvantage, including within 400 meters of established public housing areas; in areas

that do not already have poker machines; around retail strips or shopping centers; and within 400 meters of other gaming venues”.

Fourteen municipalities, in the meantime, have called for the government to introduce more stringent caps on electronic gaming machines, but Liquor and Gaming Regulation Minister Edward O’Donohue ruled that out, saying there already was a cap on Victoria’s 30,000 gaming machines, “as well as regional caps, municipal limits and venue restrictions”.

“The government has no plans to change the number of gaming machines permitted in Victoria or to alter regional caps or municipal limits,” he said.

Players lose an estimated A$2.5 billion to slot machines in Victoria annually, of which just over $1 billion is taken by the state government through taxes.