ELECTRONIC gaming machines (EGM) will be “discouraged” from low socio-economic areas and banned from main shopping strips under a proposed Corangamite Shire planning amendment.
Councillors voted to seek authorisation to prepare an amendment to the Corangamite Planning Scheme to implement recommendations from the EGM framework.
The framework provides a strategic direction for the location of gaming machines and it’s recommendations are aimed at strengthening council’s position when a planning permit application is made for gaming machine licences.
Planning officer Andrew Lancashire said there were 57 gaming machines already in the shire across two venues in Camperdown and Cobden, but the regional cap of 127 machines in the shire meant there was potential for 70 more licences.
He said the framework highlighted potential areas where EGMs may be more harmful and a range of localised social and economic data sets had been used for the recommendations.
“Council doesn’t have a local planning policy on gaming that would assist in controlling the number and location of EGM units within the shire,” he said.
“The framework includes a recommendation that council create a local planning policy to discourage gaming in disadvantaged areas and further support limiting convenience gaming by including a ban on EGM units within “strip shopping centres” in the shire’s townships.”
Cr Wayne Oaks said electronic gaming machines are no more out of place than ATMs.
“We, as a council, are obliged to care for our shire and our residents where we can, and in my view this is one of the best ways we can do that,” he said.
Cr Ruth Gstrein said the amendment would allow council to take a strong position in the future about where EGMs can be placed. “Taking a strong stance on where gaming machines can be placed is something we owe our community,” she said.
Councillors voted 6-0 to seek permission from the planning minister to prepare the amendment and place it on public exhibition, with Cr Jo Beard abstaining from the vote, stating a conflict of interest.