Amendment focuses on harm minimisation

SUCCESS: Anti-pokies group EPIC celebrate the VCAT decision in 2012. Picture: FAIRFAX

SUCCESS: Anti-pokies group EPIC celebrate the VCAT decision in 2012. Picture: FAIRFAX

MOUNT Alexander Shire Council has proposed changing its planning scheme to include adopting the Mount Alexander Gaming Policy Review.

Known as Amendment C72, the change will guide the council's assessment of future planning permit applications for gaming increases as well as increases to the number of electronic gaming machines in the shire.

“This amendment will introduce new planning provisions to clarify areas where gaming venues and electronic gaming machines can be located and where they are discouraged,” Mount Alexander Shire sustainable development director Jason Taylor said.

“It aims to provide clarity and certainty for gaming proponents and the community. It would apply to all land within the municipality."

The council adopted the Gaming Policy Review in April this year as a part of its harm minimisation approach to problem gambling.

The review lays out five principles to guide decision-making on future gaming planning permit applications - gaming machines should be accessible but not convenient; Protect problem gamblers and vulnerable communities; the provision of gaming machines should be capped, densities controlled and number of venues minimised; a choice and diversity of entertainment facilities and attractions should be available; and venues should be designed and operated to minimise harm and amenity impacts.

The continued focus on harm minimisation follows on from VCAT's decision to block plans for 65 new poker machines in Castlemaine in 2012.

The council, along with community group Enough Pokies in Castlemaine, successfully argued more poker machines in Castlemaine would be a disadvantage for the community.

VCAT agreed saying the negative social impact of poker machines outweighed any “moderate economic benefits” to the town.

Amendment C72 will be on display at the council offices from Thursday, June 5 to Friday, July 18.

The council is not currently considering any planning permit applications or submissions for gaming venue approval or additional electronic gaming machines.

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