WESTERN Victoria has among the highest percentages of gamblers in regional Victoria, but most of them are classed as low-risk.
Barwon south-west had 72.3 per cent of its population who gamble and the Grampians area had 70.8 per cent, according to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s draft report on social and economic costs of problem gambling.
Only 0.4 per cent in Barwon south-west were regarded as problem gamblers and only 0.1 per cent in the Grampians.
However, both regions had fairly high numbers of people who had contacted Gamblers Help with 6.5 per cent in Barwon south-west and 6.3 per cent in the Grampians. The commission received numerous submissions including one from the Great South Coast group of six municipalities.
The south-west submission data painted a picture of high rates of electronic gaming machine density and expenditure correlating with higher rates of problem gambling, in a regulatory regime where local government was almost powerless to prevent more pokies.
In attempting to find a link between problem gambling and expenditure on electronic gaming machines, concentration of the machines and socio-economic indexes the commission said results were not conclusive.
However, there were clearer links in metropolitan Melbourne.
The commission said more research could be useful to support regulations requiring applications for expanding the number of pokies or opening a gaming venue to be subject to a socio-economic impact assessment.
Its draft report, which is available for public comment, noted Corangamite Shire Council expected to spend $40,000 on a planning scheme amendment to protect vulnerable areas from an influx of pokies.