Analysis of EGM licensing decisions by the gambling regulator, Victoria, Australia

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Gambling expansion is commonly justified in public discourse by claims of community benefit, increased employment and capital investment. Compared to other jurisdictions, the Electronic Gambling Machine (EGM) license process in Victoria, Australia, is relatively transparent and amenable to analysis. This article describes research that assessed factors relevant to EGM license decisions made by Victoria’s gambling regulator between 2007 and 2014. During the period under review, the regulator granted 144 of 154 applications, finding that approving these applications would not be detrimental to relevant communities. Most commonly cited factors supporting approvals were commitments to undertake capital works, contribute to community purposes and increase employment. The regulator overwhelmingly agreed that supportive factors would balance harms, such as problem gambling, high levels of expenditure or socio-economic disadvantage. This research demonstrates the difficulty of balancing apparently quantifiable benefits against less readily measurable gambling-related harms in regulatory decision-making. The study found that harms were poorly conceived and understood inadequately and supportive factors frequently overstated. This process may lead to unnecessarily high levels of community harm, contradicting the purposes of the relevant legislation. The article suggests that better, more consistently applied principles are required to ensure the more rigorous scrutiny of supportive factors and improved understanding of gambling harms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-86
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Gambling Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Gambling regulation
  • electronic gambling machines
  • Australia
  • social benefits
  • social harm

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