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Byron Bay hotel swaps pokies for restaurant space

Mon, Mar 4, 9:26am by Staff Writer

The Beach Hotel in Byron Bay is now under new ownership, with big changes on how it approaches its operations.

Since the Impact Investment Group bought the Beach Hotel in 2018, they have removed the clubs 15 poker machines and redesigned the space.

It reopened as the Green Room this past weekend, in an effort to support local workers and businesses.

“We are really proud of making the big move to remove our poker machines. It was a hard decision financially, but it certainly feels like the right decision. The feedback from the community has been extremely positive,” general manager Elke van Haandel told Echo.

“For the new incarnation of the space, we have sourced everything locally. From the materials – to the collaborators – to the menu, everything possible has been curated around what’s available in our shire.”

“It’s not just the food – but the beverages too. Every cocktail was curated around a Brookies Gin or a Husk Distillers product, with Stone & Wood on tap of course, but also we have been the first to pour Jilly wines on tap and Mount Warning mineral water,” van Haandel said.

Chef of the Beach Hotel David Moyle has designed a menu that focuses on seafood and aperitivo-hour snacks.

Larger items include kangaroo tartare, local burrata with tomato salad, charcuterie boards and a prawn cocktail.

This transformation in New South Wales comes as councils across Australia grapple with pokies reform in their communities.

Queensland council hopes to reduce pokies

The Noosa Shire Council have made significant step towards curbing community pokies problems in joining the Alliance for Gambling Reform Group.

The first local government in the state of Queensland to join the group, the move is seen as a sign of leadership in combating pokies issues and may prompt other municipalities in following suit in the near future.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is a national advocacy organisation that works to prevent and minimise harm from gambling.

The organisation is headed by Tim Costello and has provided local councils and other member organisations with expert advice and practical resources to take positive action, especially with regards to getting necessary legislative change to protect communities from the harmful impacts of gambling.

“Of the world’s gaming or poker machines that exist outside of casinos, 75% of them are in Australian pubs and clubs,” he said.

“By joining the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Noosa Council teams up with other local governments, health services, foundations, churches and welfare organisations that have a shared concern about the harmful impacts of gambling, as well as its normalisation in Australian culture.

“This is just another step in Noosa Council’s efforts to ensure the wellbeing of our residents. It is also an action that we hope may be emulated by other Queensland councils,” the Mayor said.

Mr de Chastel said in Queensland that the number of gaming machines increased from 20,888 in July 2004 to 24,583 in July this year.

“The amount of money lost by players of gaming machines has also increased during this period from $68,520,536 to $93,725,270.”

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is 100% funded by donations from individuals and foundations that do not have any ties with the gambling industry. They are not affiliated with any political party.

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