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Greens MP wants pokies venue closures

Tue, Mar 24, 12:15pm by Noah Taylor

The Tasmanian Greens have urged that pokies venues must close to save lives.

Greens MP Cassy O’Connor said that it is reckless negligence towards at-risk people for poker machine venues to continue to operate electronic gaming machines during a lethal, global pandemic.

“Casino and venue owners have a clear duty of care to their patrons to shut down the pokies until the covid-19 threat passes.

“The Australian Government has prohibited non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more.

“The permitted density is no more than one person per four square metres of floorspace.

Ms O’Connor raised the question of whether Tasmanian casinos, pubs and clubs in her home state are operating lawfully.

“Pokies venues expose gamblers to unacceptable risk of coronavirus infection.

“We join the call of medical professionals for them to close.

“They must be closed immediately to save lives,” she said in a media release.

Casey residents fight back over new pokies

Casey residents are preparing to do battle over plans for 100 poker machines to be installed at the proposed $36 million hotel in Clyde North.

Casey Council is also opposing the pokies bid which says will result in a negative impact on the community, if the application by Castello Daisey’s Hotel is approved.

The proposal, which has attracted 60 objections, will be considered when a Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation hearing takes place on March 3.

The hotel has been earmarked at a vacant site at 1/59 Matterhorn Drive, Clyde North and estimated to rake in $9.8 million in the first 12 months of operation.

It will offer a 10-pin bowling complex, a bistro, a sports bar with TAB, function rooms, a beer garden, a kids’ play room, a cafe, alfresco dining terrace, a virtual entertainment and e-sports area, and a gaming lounge with 100 pokies machines.

It also proposed to have a 42-room motel at a later stage.

At its January meeting, then Casey councillors resolved to oppose the application and has since made a submission to the VCGLR.

“We are naturally concerned about gambling losses being experienced by Casey residents and advocate that the State Government extend a cap that limits the number of EGMs across the municipality,” Casey Council manager of growth and investment Kathryn Seirlis said.

“A city-wide cap would provide certainty to the remaining parts of Casey to keep the EGM density consistent across the local government area,” Ms Seirlis said.

Among those to have submitted an objection to council is the Cranbourne Information and Support Service Inc.

While it welcomed an entertainment precinct for the community, the executive officer of CISS Leanne Petrides said, “we do not welcome the poker machines as there are already 290 electronic gaming machines available for people to use within an 8.5 kilometre radius of the proposed site.”

Ms Petrides said the hundreds of thousands of dollars lost from pokies each week will have social impacts to families in an area “where many people are already struggling to make ends meet.”

Hotel argues its case

However, Castello Daisey’s Hotel argued the proposed hotel will not be detrimental to the wellbeing of the community – as the “primary catchment around the venue does not present as an area that is undergoing extreme socio-economic hardship,” it said in a statement to VCGLR.

Tim Costello, the Alliance for Gambling Reform’s chief advocate, expressed his content in Casey Council lodging an objection with the Commission, saying “pokies dens are designed to fleece people regardless of socio-economic background or geography.”

In his application to the VCGLR, the chief executive officer of Castello Group Giuseppe Guistiniano, said the proposed hotel would be one of the largest hospitality and entertainment hotels “ever built in Australia.”

“On a smaller scale, with the exception of Berwick Springs, there are no family friendly entertainment venues within a five kilometre radius of the proposed location for the hotel, Mr Giustiniano said in a witness statement lodged with the VCGLR.

Meanwhile, Berwick man Tom Cummings, an anti-pokies crusader, said the hotel application was a “terrible idea” as it was “slap bang in the middle of a number of new residential estates and just a few metres from schools”.


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