Community groups vying for pokies cash in Casey

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
No plan for clubs? exit from pokies, Victorian political leader said

Community groups in the Victorian shire of Casey will be able to cash in up to $10,000 from pokies money generated by the Lynbrook Hotel.

Berwick News reports that the hotel was directed in 2018 to mane an annual cash contribution of $68,000 to the community as a condition of its gaming licence to Casey Council.

Community groups, organisations and schools located within Casey, which directly support residents of Lynbrook, Lyndhurst, Hampton Park and the wider Casey community, can now apply for up to $10,000 and a minimum of $1000 as part of the Lynbrook Hotel Community Contributions Fund.

Figures show in the year to June 30, Lynbrook Hotel raked in $8.9 million from its 55 electronic gaming machines, while Casey as a whole recorded a total of $132.4 million in losses.

But Casey mayor Amanda Stapledon was adamant council was not endorsing gaming and gambling providers, products or services.

She said the funds would be made to groups and organisations supporting people experiencing hardship as a result of problem gambling, mental health support systems, social inclusion and promoting recreational activities.

“Our position on gaming machines has not changed and we are very aware of the social detriment that is caused to our communities as a result of gaming machines. We will continue to maintain our responsibility to the community including social responsibilities in relation to gambling,” she said.

Funding does little to help those who need it most – Tim Costello

Chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform Reverend Tim Costello said the problem with funding was it “reinforces the concept that there is some sort of ‘community benefit’ to gambling, when there is none.”

“This pathetic $68,000 is coming off the back of the immense harm caused by gambling in Casey, to the tune of $362,632 per day lost on poker machines over the past financial year.”

Mr Costello said the losses at the Lynbrook Hotel averaged at $24,614 per day last financial year, adding, “this piddling $68,000 doesn’t even represent three days of losses and gambling harm there. It’s more of an insult to the community, not a benefit,” he said.

It is anticipated the funds will primarily be distributed to benefit residents of Lynbrook, Lyndhurst and Hampton Park, being the primary patron catchment of the venue.

Two information sessions about the fund will be held on Monday, October 7 at 10am at the Lynbrook Community Centre and 6pm at Bunjil Place.

Punters in Casey spend more than $130m last year

Gamblers in the district of Casey in Victoria lost $132.4 million in the last financial year – prompting calls from critics to “outlaw the predatory and addictive features” of poker machines.

Star News is reporting the figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation show Casey took out the accolade for the second highest pokies losses in the state – equal to $524 for every adult.

Of the 13 venues in Casey, the Berwick Springs Hotel ranked second in Victoria, taking $19.7 million.

Hampton Park Tavern was also in the top 10 and had the largest increase in player losses, raking in $1.3 million more than the previous year.

Punters also forked out $6.6 million at Amstel Golf Club, $12.9 million at Fountain Gate Taverner and $8.2 million at Trio Sports Club in Cranbourne.

Cranbourne Information and Support Services’ executive officer Leanne Petrides said gambling had devastating effects on families seeking their help.

“We see a number of people attending our service for counselling and financial counselling who have lost so much due tog ambling on the pokies, including their relationships and, in some cases, their homes,” she said.

“We are also working with an increasing number of children and young people who are addicted to gaming.”

Casey acting director of city planning and infrastructure Duncan Turner said council had been advocating for the state government to extend a cap on the number of electronic gaming machines for the whole municipality.

“Council remains concerned about gambling losses being experienced by Casey residents, particularly given many are from vulnerable communities already experiencing relatively high levels of socio-economic disadvantage,” Mr Turner said.

“A city-wide cap would provide certainty to the remaining parts of Casey to keep the electronic gaming machine density consistent across the municipality.”

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