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Extra pokies at Monbulk will have negative impact – Council

Wed, Jul 3, 2:25pm by Staff Writer

Extra pokies at the Monbulk Bowling Club would have a negative impact on the community, according to the Yarra Ranges Council.

The Ranges Trader reports that a council-commissioned report from SGC Economics and Planning found the 10 electronic gaming machines would provide a “modest economic benefit” for the town and surrounds.

“The essential tenet of the SGS findings is not that there will be no harms, rather that the economic benefits outweigh the harms,” the council report said.

“This does not ameliorate council’s concern for the negative social and health impacts in Monbulk.”

Councillors endorsed making a submission to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation on the proposal at their Tuesday, June 25 meeting.

As well as highlighting “the negative social impacts” the extra machines would have, it will ask the VCGLR to “interrogate further aspects of the application.”

Councillor Fiona McAllister said the SEIA “didn’t come out quite as categorical as we hoped against increased numbers of EGMs at the Monbulk Bowling Club.”

“We’re tasked as councillors to improve the overall quality of life of the people we represent,” she said.

Cr McAllister said there was huge volume of research talking about the negative impact of gambling.

“Any additional gambling behaviour or opportunities for gambling in our community will contribute to the ongoing normalisation of gambling,” she said.

“I think we need to stand very firm on this one.”

Cr Mike Clarke said the area was home to “a predominant pensioner/retired population and a substantial number of low income households.”

“I don’t accept that these people need entertainment in the form of gambling,” he said.

“If we can’t think of better ways of entertaining then there’s something wrong.”

Bowls and entertainment planned

Monbulk Bowling Club general manager Denise Rutzou said that as far as spending entertainment dollars was concerned, the focus for the club was to enhance the entertainment it offered the community and support groups who were proactive in that space.

“We plan on having dinner shows and to offer barefoot bowls on a casual basis to anyone who is interested, just to name a couple of initiatives,” she said.

“If we get an opportunity to complete our refurbishment we are looking at areas like a food and wine club or a book club and are certainly looking for other ideas to use our venue to enhance our community offer.”

“We are also big supporters of the Monbulk Car Show that has been a huge success in recent times.”

Ms Rutzou cleared up one aspect of the application that the council will ask the VCGLR to “interrogate further” – figures regarding anticipated revenue.

She said expenditure at Monbulk Bowling Club would be about $499,770 in the first 12 months of operation of the additional EGMs.

She said 64 per cent of the expenditure would be transferred from other venues within the Yarra Ranges and beyond.

“This results in $183,216 new expenditure for the area, which will have a 0.6 per cent impact upon the total actual gaming expenditure within the Shire of Yarra Ranges as at 2017-18,” Ms Rutzou said.

The club formed in 1965 to provide a venue for bowlers – which Ms Rutzou said remained its focus – and has 30 poker machines.

Adding the extra machines would help to fund a $1.7 million venue renovation.

Yarra Ranges mayor Tony Stevenson told the meeting that the VCGLR would accept submissions on the proposal from the public until July 16.

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