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Council to oppose 20 more poker machines in Victoria

Thu, Mar 21, 1:13pm by Staff Writer

Mitchell Shire Council in Victoria will make a submission opposing Hogan Hotel’s application for an extra 20 poker machines at its Wallan premises, the North Central Review reports.

Mitchell Shire is home to more than 40,000 residents and includes towns such as Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour and Wallan.

The special council meeting was held to assess whether or not the proposal was in line with its Electronic Gaming and Planning Policy.

The Electronic Gaming Policy states that: “electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are a part of Mitchell Shire’s recreation and entertainment offering; however, for a significant few EGMs can cause serious financial, personal and social impacts.”

The policy also states that council notes EGMs are associated with a high prevalence of problem gambling and that EGMs can be the source of significant adverse social and economic consequences for problem gamblers.

The decision to make a submission comes after a special council meeting last week where all councilors in attendance voted unanimously to submit a Social and Economic Impact Assessment to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

The assessment, undertaken by SGS Economics and Planning, details the social and economic impacts on the Mitchell Shire Council community if 20 extra poker machines are added.

Councillors Rob Eldridge, Rhonda Sanderson and Fiona Stevens raised their concerns while referring to the detrimental statistics and figures in the assessment.

SGS Economics and Planning’s report estimated a $6.9 million social and economic loss to the Shire community if 20 more machines were added.

“The figures are confronting,” Cr Sanderson said.

“An increase of electronic gaming machines increases the loss to our community – and it’s a direct cost to us,” Cr Sanderson said.

Cr Stevens acknowledge the benefits that Hogan’s Hotel provided to the community and highlighted their reasons for the application.

“The reason given by Hogan’s is to improve their financial position and cater to the growing demand,” she said.

“However, I don’t believe the Social and Economic Impact Assessment substantiates Hogan’s Hotel’s reasons for the application.”

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation oversees the conduct of gambling in Victoria and is a statutory authority to determine whether an application for a gaming license should be granted.

The commission will consider the application on April 2.

Hogan’s Hotel has applied to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation to expand its gaming facilities from 45 to 65.

In the past financial year, more than A$18 million was lost on pokies in the region, equated to more than A$50,000 per day.

228 machines already in operation in the region

There are five venues with EGMs in Mitchell Shire and a total of 228 machines in the region.

The area ranks 39th in terms of highest pokies expenditure in the state and 47th for socio-economic disadvantage according to statistics from the Victorian Responsible Gambling website.

The average loss per adult in the Shire is A$574.

Poker machines were first installed at Hogan’s Hotel in 2004, with the original 30 machines expanded to 45 in 2012.

The owner of Hogan’s Hotel Jim Hogan told the North Central Review that the hotel provided A$80,000 in voluntary cash and contributions to sporting clubs, charities and community groups in the past financial year.

In a statement, he said that the hotel would increase its contribution to a minimum of A$100,000 if the application were approved.

In addition to an expanded gaming lounge, the A$2.4 million planned redevelopment of the hotel would include a new verandah, expansion of the existing kitchen and other minor refurbishments.


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