Guide 1-7 Applying for a licence to install an EGM, or change the number of EGMs

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Part 7: What is the role of local communities in the application process?

As the VCGLR hearing process is open to the public, any individual, service provider, community group or stakeholder with an interest in the application is entitled to make a submission to be heard at the VCGLR.

 

Community members or groups that may be affected by the proposal, or can provide insight into the likely impact of a proposal on the community, include but are not limited to representatives of the following:

 

  • Schools
  • Community services such as health services, gambling advocacy groups
  • Developers
  • Local residents

 

As stakeholders in a gaming application, these groups, individuals, and service providers can make a submission to the VCGLR hearing. Alternatively, Council or a community group may call upon one or many of these groups to provide expert evidence about the potential social and economic impacts of the application on the community. The ways in which evidence provided by members of the community can be given to the hearing are outlined below.

 

Expert Evidence Statements

Both VCAT and VCGLR have specific requirements about the format of expert evidence reports, or witness’ statements. Refer to Fact Sheet 11 Tips for conducting a social and economic impact assessment (SEIA) of a planning permit, or licence, application for EGMs.

 

Community Surveys

Community groups can also prepare a community survey. This gets the views of a sample of residents within the municipality about the EGM application. A survey can be undertaken online, via telephone or face to face.  The survey must begin by stating all the details of the application including:  venue location, current and proposed EGM numbers; the community benefits linked to the application (eg. One-off community grants, community meeting spaces, improvements to bistro etc.).  A survey usually then asks questions (anonymously) about the respondent’s age and demographics, place of residence, employment, education and recreation choices including EGM gaming activities. The survey then asks questions about the respondents attitudes to the application, for example, whether they support or oppose the application. For more information about community surveys view ‘Guide 3 - How important are community attitudes to EGMs and how can you conduct a survey of community attitudes?’

 

In 2008, an unprecedented decision was made to give community attitudes greater weight in assessing applications for EGMS when an application at the Romsey Hotel (Macedon Ranges Shire Council) that had been rejected by the VCGLR and later overturned by VCAT, was set aside in the Supreme Court largely because community attitudes were ignored in the first decision. The application was rejected when it was reheard at VCAT. The Court of Appeal decision noted:

 

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

 

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