Mitchell Shire Council is calling for the Victorian Government to consider a regional cap on electronic gaming machines and for recent plans to increase the limit on the number of machines in the shire by 25 per cent to be abandoned.
The increased limit from 239 machines to 299 was announced last month without community consultation and came into effect on Friday.
According to statistics from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, more than $17 million was spent on 228 gaming machines at five venues across the shire in 2016-17.
Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said the council had written to Victorian Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Marlene Kairouz asking for the increase to be abandoned and a cap to be implemented.
‘‘An increase in the number of electronic gaming machines allowed in Mitchell Shire will be detrimental to the health of our rapidly growing community and will put already vulnerable people more at risk,’’ Cr Sanderson said.
‘‘There are currently 228 machines of a possible 239 under current licensing arrangements, so it seems premature to add another 60 possible licenses in the municipality without any consultation.
‘‘While not everyone who uses poker machines is addicted, we know problem gamblers are disproportionally addicted to pokies compared to other forms of gambling.
‘‘We also know that it does affect a proportion of the community and that it intertwines with a range of other social impacts such as family violence, poverty and suicide.’’
For more information on gambling or help with problem gambling, visit the website www.responsiblegambling. vic.gov.au