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Ballina Shore councillor opposes his own pokies motion

Mon, Feb 11, 12:21pm by Staff Writer

A Ballina Shore councillor has supported a rescission motion against his own motion that would have seen the council give the Lennox Sports Club a rent rebate for reducing the number of poker machines in the venue.

The original motion was proposed by the Ballina Council would introduced price incentives for the venue in exchange for reducing its reliance on the pokies.

The Ballina Council owns the land on which the sports club stands.

Cr Nathan Willis came up the motion initially, but said that after further consideration, he thought better of it.

At the Council’s January meeting, he voted to rescind his own proposal and instead propose that staff investigate how other local government areas around Australia are dealing with the problem.

“My concern has been to ensure that we don’t cause harm to the club, but at the same time, we address the issue of the social harm around poker machines,” he told Echonetdaily.

“The rent of the club will be considered as a separate issue to reducing the social harm caused by poker machines in the Shire,” Cr Willis said.

“There will be a report sometime this year by staff into what we have done. We will be looking at Darebin Council in Victoria.

“I know they have been working with the alliance for gambling reform,” he said.

Geelong Council to take on Polish Association

Council’s across Australia are grappling with how to deal with pokies in the community, with the City of Geelong’s Council one example.

They are taking on the Polish Association in Geelong in a bid to stop more poker machines from the White Eagle House in Breakwater.

Council has set aside A$30,000 for lawyers and an independent expert in order to stave off the White Eagle House’s proposed increase in electronic gaming machines from 35 to 78.

Councillors voted 7-4 last week in favour of spending A$30,000 fighting the associations bid, despite recently losing thousands on a similar battle with the Geelong RSL.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) approved the RSL’s application for 30 extra pokies in December, despite council committing lawyers and ‘in-house’ representation to the fight.

The addition of an independent expert in this new case with White Eagle House is believed to be an important faeet of the council’s strategy.

“If we analyse recent decisions at the VCGLR, the best chance we have of success is to have legal representation and an independent expert to present the strongest case possible,” Cr Sarah Mansfield told the Geelong Indy.

She opposed the application despite acknowledging the association’s “good work”.

“The density of EGMs (electronic gaming machines) in this area (Breakwater) is very high already, and this application seeks to increase that density even further.

“There’s a large body of evidence that says more machines is linked to more problem gambling. Studies have shown that areas with greater numbers of EGMs have higher numbers of help-seeking by problem gamblers,” Cr Mansfield said.

ACT to slash the number of poker machines to 4,000 by 2020

State gaming reforms in the Australia Capital Territory were introduced earlier this year that will see 1,000 machines lost in 2019 and a cap of only 4,000 in the state by 2020.

The Gaming Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 was approved by the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2018.

It will force clubs to give up some of their poker machine licenses from April 2019.

Under the terms of the new Bill, the state’s sports, social and cultural clubs will be required to surrender 20 per cent of their poker machines on two dates – April 1, 2019 and April 30, 2019.

The government has offered A$12,000 cash incentives to small and medium sized clubs until the end of January next year to partially offset the loss in revenue from the forfeiture of machines.

This will reduce the total number of machines in the ACT by 1,000, a key election pledge by the ruling Labor Party.

The Bill was introduced at the beginning of November and will also increase the level of net gaming revenue to be given to community causes by 0.8 per cent.

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