Council ban on pokies?

A new council policy threatens to ban Kyneton Bowling Club’s electronic gaming machines.

The future viability of Kyneton Bowling Club is at risk as a new council policy threatens to ban its electronic gaming machines. 

Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s new draft Gambling Harm Prevention Policy would prevent any form of gambling at council-owned or managed sites. 

It would directly impact the Kyneton Bowling Club, which is the only EGM operator in the shire currently leasing a council site. 

The club introduced 25 gaming machines in 1995 to assist with what it described as “flagging finances”. 

Since then, it has reinvested that gaming revenue back into the club, and the community through sponsorships and support. 

The draft Gambling Harm Prevention Policy was released for community consultation at the end of February. 

MRSC’s director of community, Maria Weiss, said its objective was to prevent the negative social and economic impacts of gambling on the community. 

“It was developed utilising local demographics, including financial losses through electronic gaming machines in the Macedon Ranges, as well as contemporary research into gambling harms and previous feedback from the community,” she said. 

$9M TO EGMs 

A 2017 ministerial order caps the permissible number of EGMs for Macedon Ranges Shire at 355. The shire is operating well under that cap with a total of 103 EGMs across three venues. The Kyneton RSL and Gisborne’s Victorian Tavern are the two other operators. 

In 2022/23 these machines generated a total loss of $9,089,731, according to the council’s draft policy and report. 

“Compared to other LGAs across Victoria EGM losses and gambling harms incurred by the Macedon Ranges community are not considered extreme,” the policy states. 

“Although EGM losses in excess of $9M for the Macedon Ranges in the last financial year still appears to be too high for the community to sustain.” 

The new draft policy outlines 25 points with council actions including actively discouraging new or additional EGMs, and not providing financial support or grants for activities that take place in gambling venues. 

Ms Weiss said the council had informed the bowling club of the policy and encouraged it to submit feedback. 

“Should the draft policy be endorsed, the council will work closely with the club on a viable exit strategy for the electronic gaming machines over the longer term, as per the policy requirements.” 

Termination of EGMs at the bowling club would be stipulated in the club’s next lease renewal. The current lease for the Kyneton Bowling Club ends on May 23, 2027. 

Kyneton Bowling Club declined to comment at this time. 


The new draft policy also comes as Romsey residents await the outcome a hotly debated pokies application for their town. 

Romsey Football Netball Club Inc has applied for 50 gaming machines at the former Romsey Hotel, 90 Main Street. 

An application to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission last year detailed a $10 million pub renovation and extension including café/bistro/ lounge, function room, gaming lounge and sports bar. 

MRSC fought against an application for pokies at the same site years before following substantial community opposition. The applicant lost and the pub has been closed since 2017. 

It was a battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court and was a significant case that continues to be referenced. 

The VGCCC is now accepting submissions to the latest Romsey Hotel EGM proposal. A hearing date for the matter is yet to be set. 


Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s draft Gambling Harm Prevention Policy is open for community feedback until until March 31. It is available to read in full on the council’s website where submissions can also be lodged here