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Altona RSL’s plans for 22 new pokies rejected

Wed, Jan 16, 10:16am by Staff Writer

The Altona RSL has had its bid for 22 pokies machines rejected by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. The premises had applied to increase its number of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) from 58 to 80 by inheriting 22 machines from the now closed Williamstown RSL club.

As reported by Star Weekly, the Hobson Bay council opposed the application. There are nine pokies venues in Hobsons Bay, with a total of 535 machines. Almost half of these (239) are in the Altona-Seaholme neighbourhood.

Commissioner Dina McMillan and deputy chair Helen Bersey said the application could lead to an increase in problem gambling and failed the “no net detriment test.”

“The commission is required to be satisfied that if the application is granted, the net economic and social impact of approval will not be detrimental to the wellbeing of the community of the municipal district in which the Altona RSL is located,” their report stated.

Application focused on community benefit and jobs

Altona RSL General Manager David Hanson represented the club in its proposed acquisition of the new machines.

Mr Hanson outlined the various aspects to the premises as well as activities run by the RSL including trivia, raffles, free entertainment, bingo and yoga sessions.

The Altona RSL currently employees 22 people including five full-time employees and 17 casual staff.

The turnover rate of staff at the venue is low according to Mr Hanson, a testament to the strong community values held by the club.

A successful application would provide the RSL with the ability to offer extra employment to the equivalent of four full-time employees, a statement taken from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation reads.

The club went on to ensure the regulation that it was fully compliant with its responsible gaming obligations and that all staff in the gaming room are qualified.

The RSL subscribes to and strictly adheres to the terms of the AHA Self Exclusion Program, the statement reads.

Altona RSL revenue growing faster than metro Victoria

The Altona RSL has enjoyed growth in gaming expenditure during the past five years, highlighted by a 7.3 per cent increase in gaming revenue between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 years.

Total gaming revenue in 2016-17 was $3,720,144 according to a report tabled as part of the club’s recent application.

Mr Hanson attributes the clubs growth to the introduction of TAB in November 2005, operation of courtesy buses on Tuesday for Bingo and Thursday to Sunday from lunch, an increase in promotional activity and an increase in membership.

The City of Altona’s gambling expenditure grow 0.2 per cent in 2016-17 to just shy of $47 million.

The revenue for metropolitan Victoria dipped slightly in that same period by 0.5 per cent to more than $2.05 billion.

The estimated revenue from 22 new machines at the club would be $3.45 million in the first year, nearly doubling last financial year’s revenue.

The venue would require a transformation from a medium to large sized venue that would cost in excess of $3 million according to Mr Hanson, had the application been approved.

“The commission also accepts that to the extent that approval of this application would result in an increase to gambling-related crime and other social disturbances, including family violence, it would constitute a social disbenefit.”

Mr Hanson declined to comment after the decision was made.

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