Fact Sheet 14

Recent Research related to Applications for EGMs

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This fact sheet is intended to be used as a quick reference guide to the issues around problem gambling with a focus on Electronic Gaming Machines. The table below summaries these issues into themes and provides, where available, a list of websites and links to relevant documents. Where these links are not available, a full reference is provided.


Research Theme

Relevant Web Link

Relevance/Key Findings

Understanding Problem Gambling

Department of Justice, A study of gambling in Victoria: Problem Gambling from a Public Health Perspective’ (2009)



The research found that, compared to Victorian adults, problem gamblers had the following characteristics:

  1. higher proportion of males and lower proportion of females and a lower proportion of people 65yrs and older
  2. higher proportion of people of Indigenous backgrounds
  3. lower proportion of people with a personal income of under $31,199 and a higher proportion with an income of $31,200-$51,999
  4. lower proportion of professionals, technicians/trades workers and clerical/administrative staff and a significantly higher proportion of sales workers, machinery operators/drivers and labourers
  5. lower proportion of households with an income of under $33,799 and a significantly higher proportion of households with an income of $62,400-$103,999
  6. lower proportion of people who have migrated to Australia in the past 5 years.

Productivity Commission Inquiry Report on Gambling (2010)


Problem gambling affects a small but significant number of people within the community, and these figures increase dramatically for EGM gambling. Around a third of regular (weekly) EGM gamblers are problem gamblers or moderate risk gamblers.

Accessibility of Gaming Machines

Department of Justice, Problem Gambling Vulnerability: The interaction between access, individual cognitions and group beliefs/preferences, Melbourne (2010)


The location of a gaming venue can influence problem gambling. Gaming is a land use that is subject to Council control and responsibility through the application of the Planning Scheme. Research and policy identify a strong link between accessibility of gaming venues (geographical, temporal, and social) and gambling behaviour.

Regional Caps Review, Australian National University Centre for Gambling Research (2005)


The spatial distribution of EGMs in Victoria is uneven, and most EGMs are located in areas of higher disadvantage.

Department of Justice, A study of gambling in Victoria: Problem Gambling from a Public Health Perspective’ (2009)


Kirby,P The Review of Electronic Gaming Machine, Club Keno and Wagering Licences and Funding Arrangements for the Licencing Industry Post -2012, Gambling Licences Review, Office of Gaming and Racing (2006)



Media/ docs/

Overall trends from a survey of Victorians relating to gambling behaviour showed that 53.74% of pokies players travelled no more than 5km to their preferred pokies venue. (Department of Justice, 2009). As a result of this, the Gaming Machine Licence Review stated that ‘destination’ venues which are set apart from local communities, can offer greater likelihood of responsible gambling (Kirby 2006).


Productivity Commission, Australia’s Gambling Industries, Inquiry Report (1999)

Regional Caps Review, Australian National University Centre for Gambling Research (2005)

Gaming Machine Accessibility and Use in Suburban Canberra: A Detailed Analysis of the Tuggeranong Valley (2004)


stories/documents/coun cil/Select_Committees/




Convenient access to gaming machines (through location, EGM density, number of venues, number of machines and social accessibility) can make the local community more vulnerable to problem gambling and negative impacts of gaming machines

Gamblers who live within 5km of their regular club have been proven through various means of research to be more likely to gamble, to gamble more frequently and to play for longer duration than those who have to travel further to gamble. There is a clear relationship between the accessibility and greater incidence of problem gambling.

State Government Policy Position

Coalition Gaming Policy, 2010


Victorian Planning Scheme, Clause 52.28


Aims to:

  • ensure that gaming machines are situated in appropriate locations and premises;
  • ensure that the social and economic impacts of the location of gaming machines are considered; and
  • prohibit gaming machines in specified shopping complexes and strip shopping centres


City of Greater Geelong: Gambling Policy Framework (2007)



Health and Wellbeing

Department of Justice, A study of gambling in Victoria: Problem Gambling from a Public Health Perspective (2009)


Productivity Commission, Gambling, Inquiry Report (2010)

Brown, S and Coventry L. Queen of Hearts. The Needs of Women with Gambling Problems, published by the Financial & Consumer Rights Council , Melbourne (1997)



Problem gambling can lead to severe health, social and financial implications for the gambler and their families, which can have ramifications for service providers working to meet the needs of those with gambling problems.

Productivity Commission, Australia’s Gambling Industries, Inquiry Report (1999)


The main trigger for most people becoming problem gamblers is financial loss which then has a range of social and personal repercussions for the gambler, their families and the wider community. This may include the loss of a job, inability to pay loans or the loss of house.

Economic Impacts

South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, ‘Community Impacts of Electronic Gaming Machines’ (2005)


Although the introduction of EGMs did provide a boost to employment in hotels, taverns, bars and clubs in Victoria, most recent employment estimates suggest that their introduction did not lead to a permanently higher level of employment.

Job intensity associated with gaming expenditure is low meaning it employs less people. SACES (2005) state that “from an economic perspective the benefit of gambling should also take into account the jobs lost due to expenditure being diverted from other activities.

If the introduction of new forms of gambling such as EGMs has diverted expenditure from more job intensive activities (which is likely given the low job intensity associated with gambling expenditure), then the introduction of new gambling activities may actually have had a negative impact on employment.”

Productivity Commission, Gambling, Inquiry Report (2010)

Sourced and quoted from Macedon Ranges, Beyer, L, 2010,
A Summary Table of References for Planners and Local Government

Most club benefits from pokie machines are to members, not to the public at large. Gross value of social contributions by clubs is significantly less than the support government provides to clubs through tax and other concessions. Marketing costs by clubs are around double the direct cash community contributions they make. The larger clubs operate in a more commercial manner and the increasing focus on gambling has resulted in a move away from the traditional role of clubs.

South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, The impact of gaming machines on small regional economies. Commissioned by the Provincial Cities Association of South Australia (2001)

Sourced and quoted from Macedon Ranges, Beyer, L, 2010,
A Summary Table of References for Planners and Local Government

Generally, gambling is financed by drawing-down savings or diverting expenditure from other purchases or sale of assets. If people finance their gambling by reducing expenditure on retail items or other forms of entertainment, then the jobs created by gambling venues may be offset by job losses in other industries as they lose business.

Brown, H, A Review of Gambling Related Issues, Greater City Of Dandenong, 2011


Doubt has been cast on The Community Benefit Statement as to what benefit it provides to the community, given that expenditure that can be claimed includes running costs, such as employment expenses; fixed assets, such as furniture, TVs and fridges; and subsidized goods and services. Brown (2011) comments:

“Thus, of the $304 million claimed by Victorian clubs as community benefits in 2008/9, just $62 million, or 20%, represented expenditure of evident benefit to the community - such as gifts of goods or services, donations, sponsorships or volunteering – accounting for 6% of EGM losses to clubs in Victoria, or 2% of total EGM losses in the state”.

Relevant Prior Decisions
Romsey Hotel,VCAT, 12 November 2009 (Macedon Ranges Shire Council) .

The application for gaming machines at the Romsey Hotel was rejected by the VCGLR but overturned by VCAT, then reheard and rejected at VCAT after a Supreme Court decision, setting aside the initial VCAT overruling. Relevant comments made by Justice Morris include:

  • “..if the approval of gaming at a premises is likely to cause unhappiness or discontent in the community (or an part or parts of it) that consequence is a ‘social impact of approval’ which will be ‘detrimental to the wellbeing of the community” (para 44)


  • “...evidence of community attitude, together with other evidence as to the character of a community may give rise to an inference as to the impact that a gaming proposal is likely to have upon the social character of that community” (para 45)
  • “..community apprehension about the advent of gaming machines is capable of constituting a relevant social impact occasioning relevant detriment to the well being of the community.” (para 49)


  • “community wellbeing is an evidence based concept, based on indicators of happiness and contentment within a community”.
  • “the location of a proposed gaming venue close to shopping areas and areas of daily retail activity should be discouraged and buffer zones taken into consideration.”
Edgewater Club, Maribyrnong City Council, VCAT 15 December 2009 .

“Transferred machines from within a municipality are regarded more positively than an increase in the number of machines within the municipality.”

“Problem gambling may increase if EGMs are introduced to an area where they have not existed before.”

“Applications should consider other facilities and existing entertainment options within the locality”.

Drouin Hotel, VCAT, 16 December
2005, Branbeau
. “The VCGLR needs to be satisfied that there will be no net detriment to the community”.
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