Strategic gaming policy
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Strategic Gaming Policy. Undertaken in the context of Geelong’s…. Heritage of vocal opposition to gaming applications Instrumental in campaign against 24 hour venue machines in locality some years earlier

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Strategic Gaming Policy

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Strategic gaming policy

Strategic Gaming Policy

Undertaken in the context of geelong s

Undertaken in the context of Geelong’s…

  • Heritage of vocal opposition to gaming applications

  • Instrumental in campaign against 24 hour venue machines in locality some years earlier

  • Heritage of trying to protect particular areas from significant concentration, Corio, Norlane, and Whittington

  • Significantly uneven spread of machines in the municipality

  • Exclusion of all shopping strips as possible venue locations under Planning Scheme Particular Provisions 52.28-5 and 52.28-6

  • Total of 1356 machines in the municipality or 8.62 machines per thousand adults compared to State average of 6.60

  • A discussion paper presented in the previous year whereby there was a determination by Council that a policy should be constructed and approved in the following year although no dedicated time or resources attached to commitment

Other characteristics vcgr

Other Characteristics - VCGR

Uneven spread of machines

Uneven Spread of Machines

Uneven spread of machines1

Uneven Spread of Machines

Ocean grove bowling club application context

Ocean Grove Bowling Club Application Context

  • No policy documentation commenced

  • Submission to the Regional CAPS Review which commenced teasing out concepts about managing the Policy in a land use context but was still basically about protecting Norlane, Corio and Whittington

The initial documentation

The Initial documentation

  • Submitted Economic and Social Impact Assessment on the basis of countering the very little material presented in the application, certainly no SIA available to consider in this response despite the requirement of the legislation

  • Council thought for a very long time about how to manage the application with the VCGR asking us about whether we were appearing, or briefing out. Decision making occuring in the context of Councils are usually being slow to find and approve $ they haven’t budgeted for

  • Council ended up briefing a Solicitor and Counsel just before the case

  • First time we got their SIA was in their witness documentation from the Commission just prior to the hearing

The vcgr and our learning curve

The VCGR and our learning curve

  • Commission clearly scathing of our performance in this context

  • Nevertheless we were exceedingly lucky in our Counsel who used forensic tactics to unpick the application by OGBC

  • Felt quietly confident about the outcome –gave ourselves less than 30% chance of winning

Key issues in case

Key issues in case

  • Community social detriment from gaming, economic drain, money spent on gaming or at venue instead of other places in community

  • Community benefit from this club, and in particular flowing from the range of community activities funded from revenue from these machines

  • Flow on impact of employment and local business

  • LGA gaming ratio of machines per 1,000 adults

  • Impact of success of this application on the ratio in small area - taking ratio to above the municipal average

  • No obvious community support for application

  • Management decision making processes around additional machines and their support or otherwise

Ocean grove and the vcgr

Ocean Grove and the VCGR

  • Decision – just prior to Christmas a day or so after the Drouin decision was released

  • Legal Fees approx $30,000

    • Won on the basis that there was no existing licence for the 15 machines in East Geelong at the time of Ocean Grove application, it lapsed weeks prior – so these 15 were indeed 15 new machines to the LGA

    • That the LGA had significantly more than the state average of machines per thousand adults

    • That this would impact significantly on the ratio of machines per adult in the local area

  • Decision appealed arriving immediately after the Christmas break

Policy development

Policy Development

  • Had legal advice on Drouin decision and its implications.

  • Advice very pessimistic of chances of success but even worse if we failed to appear

  • Expected Legal fees an additional $30,000+ to loose

  • Following this we had 6 months to complete all documentation

  • This clearly didn’t give us sufficient time to insert an amendment into the Planning Scheme

  • Had legal advice about what other social research would need to do to counter the appeal

  • Decided to write a policy which was constructed around the issues raised by Justice Morris, and other issues and topics of interest considered in VCGR

Gaming is legal but only in the context of no disadvantage

Gaming is legal but only in the context of “No disadvantage”

  • Policy basis “no disadvantage” compared to all Victorians and interpreted spatially

  • Considered

    • Social Policy Framework including ‘A Fairer Victoria’

    • VPP and State Planning Policy Framework

    • Local Government Act

    • State Gaming Policy Framework

    • CoGG Policies

  • And used these to argue for betterment, or at least no further demonstrable harm to any community as a result of additional EGM’s and policy application

No disadvantage lga v state

“No disadvantage” LGA v State

  • When everything is equal for all Victorians we accept we should accept EGMs on the same basis (equal to average)

  • Challenge for us is how we measure /plot / constrain this spatially

Using seifa accepted though limited indice not particular to gaming

Using SEIFA accepted though limited indice, not particular to gaming

Strategic gaming policy

Indictors of Disadvantage -

or Indictors of Increased Risk of Gaming

  • Using a basket of comparative indicators that lead to increased risk of gaming

  • In relation to social and gaming indices (basket of 99 indicators) comparing the LGA to Victoria social outcomes etc are transparently unequal

    • 56 scored significantly lower than the State average

    • 70 scored less than the State average

    • 29 scored better than the State average

    • 20 of these were significantly better than the State Average

  • Using SEIFA

    • Victoria scored 1014.59 compared to Geelong 993.09

A relative small area v small area measure

A relative Small Area v Small Area measure

  • We then considered gaming areas (5 k radii around gaming venues) and came up with 10 areas (84 indices) to compare across Small areas

  • Compared in relation to each other using statistical significance (more and less) from State Average

Geelong v victoria

Geelong v Victoria

Indicators of relative disadvantage small area 6 moolap and leopold

Indicators of Relative Disadvantage - Small area 6 Moolap and Leopold

Measuring significance

Measuring Significance

  • Categorised against degree of difference (5-10%+) (0-5%+) 0% (0-5%-) (5-10%-)

  • Depending on whether the difference was good or bad we coloured it on a 5 colour scale from red, pink, yellow, green to blue

  • Then we scored it red =-10, pink -5, yellow 0, green +5 and blue +10

  • The higher you rated the better off you would fare

  • Divided total range into 5 equal points on a scale, and areas falling into bottom range were colored red, top range red etc




  • Area 1 = 90 Range -480 to 90

  • Area 2 = -445 

  • Area 3 = -335 Red = -480 to -366

  • Area 4 = 40Pink = -366 to -252

  • Area 5 = -95Yellow = -252 to -138

  • Area 6 = -310Green = -138 to -24

  • Area 7 = -90Blue = -24 to 90

  • Area 8 = -480 

  • Area 9 = -155 

  • Area 10= 80 



  • Using common indicators from respectable government sources including DVC, VCGR, ABS, DEET, DHS, Productivity Commission we asked what are risk factors to a community that cause it to be more at risk of gaming more often than a usual Victorian

  • Used studies on gaming in Victoria and looked at the risks alluded to and for instance where there were :

    • More women at home or without employment

    • Higher unemployment rates

    • Lower incomes

    • Higher rates of Family Tax Benefit

    • Lower school qualifications

    • Higher violence and crime rates

    • Lower medium house prices

    • Higher numbers of EGM’s

    • Higher ratio of venues per 1,000 adults

    • Gaming venues own data on distribution of community contribution etc

Using basket of social indictors

Using Basket of Social Indictors



  • No additional machines until everything is equal

  • Stratified responses depending on gaming and other social outcomes in each area

  • Where an area rated higher than pink on the scale introduced the opportunity to move machines around the municipality to areas of the same or better outcomes to even up the spread of machines

  • Range of particular responses in handling applications, community education, community support depending on colour of area

Policy managing community benefit

Policy Managing Community Benefit

  • Included an accord with operators - Gaming Accord

  • Must distribute community benefit in accordance with annually published community priorities for the areaMust have annual allocation returns submitted to LGA for auditing

  • Auditor signs of returns and provides certification for any planning application

Policy pre application checklist

Policy - Pre-Application Checklist

  • Any applicant must address in an SIA what their application does in respect of the policy, and particular social and gaming indicators used to determine outcomes for local area, municipality and state

  • We take a range of actions dependant on how it ranks and how it complies

  • Cant apply for a Planning Permit unless party to the Gaming Accord with operators, and has a certification from LGA that this is correct and up to date

Despite policy we lost the decision

Despite Policy we lost the decision

  • Accepted the 15 machines as part of Geelong’s allocation

  • Accepted that as this were the case rather than the 15 being new machines, if the policy were to be applied re-allocation into the area would have been acceptable

Where to from here

Where to from here?

  • Need to

    • redo the data in the light of new machines

    • read decisions clearly and interpret spatially

    • think about s.12 VPP and its application in regional Victoria ( should it be universally applied?)

    • amend in light of VPP changes

    • include outcomes on the Regional CAP and how this may not be a fantastic solution for Geelong as it allows for growth of machines in the light of population growth overall, but leaves us in a situation where some areas are already in significant decline with the concentration of machines increasing annually - particularly Area 2 - Norlane & Corio suburbs

      • Population growth is running at about 1.75 machines growth per annum overall, and more in some small areas

  • Will insert into the planning scheme early in the New Year and implement the Gaming Accord

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