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Council to oppose introduction of more pokies at Geelong club

Fri, Feb 1, 12:28pm by Staff Writer

The City of Greater Geelong’s council will oppose a proposed increase in the number of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) at White Eagle House in Breakwater.

The Polish Community Association has applied to more than double its number of EGMs or poker machines from 35 to 78.

The matter will be heard by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation on February 26.

The council has endorsed a budget spend of up to $30,000 for legal representation on the matter with an independent expert witness to present at the hearing.

The request for more poker machines comes despite gambling losses at the venue running at A$1.7 million in the most recent financial year, an average of $48,391 per machine according to the Geelong, Australia website.

The additional licenses would be transferred from the Geelong Football Club, which has pledged to divest itself of poker machines.

Despite its name, the Polish Community Association is privately owned.

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation says Geelong spent more than $117 million dollars or $322,000 a day on poker machines last year – the fourth-highest expenditure in the state.

The city has 25 poker machine venues that share in 1,275 licenses, which is 10 per cent below the legislated regional cap.

The proposed additional poker machines will help support development works to the venue that are worth approximately $4.75 million according to the Surf Coast Times.

The council has sought public comment about this application with a survey at open until February 13.

New machines would be introduced in three phases

The Polish Community Association has stated that the additional 43 poker machines would be rolled out in three phases if approved.

The first batch of 15 machines will be deployed upon approval, with the second allotment of 15 installed once their new sports facilities are completed.

The final 13 poker machines would follow an upgrade to the venue’s licenses hospitality facilities.

The City of Greater Geelong’s acting director of community life Robyn Stevens said: “the City’s Electronic Gaming Policy aims to reduce the negative impacts of problem gambling resulting from electronic gaming machines.

“The policy also seeks to ensure that any decisions around gambling do not have a detrimental impact on our community.

“We’d encourage all community members and organisations to have their say on the Polish Community Association’s application,” she said.

The current density of machines within a 2.5 kilometre area of White Eagle House is 20 per 1,000 adults.

This is significantly higher than the overall Greater Geelong figure of 6.5 pokes per 1,000 adults.

Geelong’s Mayor Bruce Harwood weighed in on the matter stating: “pokies users in Greater Geelong lost more than $118 million during the past financial year, and around 20 per cent of this was in the area directly surrounding where these proposed machines would be located.”

Cr Harwood went onto say that: “we (council) have a responsibility to protect our community from harm, especially in areas of disadvantage, and there’s no doubt the extra pokies would have an overall negative effect on local residents.”

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