Thu, May 16, 5:33pm by Staff Writer
A hotel in Melbourne’s north has won its battle to increase its gaming machines from 45 to 65.
The North Central Review is reporting that Hogan’s Hotel in Wallan will increase its machine numbers after a hearing decision handed down in April.
As a condition of the new permit, Hogan’s Hotel must increase its community contributions to $100,000 a year for as long as any of the additional gaming machines are in operation.
If the contributions are not allocated, the operation of the gaming machines must cease until the outstanding contributions are paid.
In March, Mitchell Shire Council voted unanimously to oppose the application and make a submission to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation at a special council meeting.
As part of the consideration, council commissioned an independent socio-economic assessment of the application.
Council presented the report along with a range of other information raising concerns about the potential for gambling harm.
Several agencies based in the shire also raised concerns with the commission and took part in the hearing.
A Mitchell Shire Council spokesperson said the additional gaming machines would have a detrimental impact on the shire.
“An independent report prepared for Mitchell Shire Council showed there would be a detrimental social and economic impact of $6.84 million if the new 20 new machines were introduced,” the spokesperson said.
“Council is disappointed in the decision and will consider its position once the commission releases the details around their decision.”
The North Central Review asked Hogan’s Hotel management for comment, but they declined.
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Mitchell Shire Council is calling on the state government to introduce warning signs on all poker machines in the state.
The North Central Review reported last month that council is calling for the change in a further stance against poker machines.
Deputy mayor David Atkinson moved the motion, which was seconded by Cr Annie Goble, and passed unanimously.
The stand comes after council made a submission to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation opposing the application for an additional 20 machines at Hogan’s Hotel in Wallan.
Cr Atkinson said pokies were the most addictive form of gambling and there was a fundamental issue with the product.
“Electronic gaming machines are designed to keep you playing and programmed to lose money. Stronger regulation is needed to make our community healthier,” he said.
“There are a lot of people, often the ones who can’t afford it, that get addicted to these machines. These people need to have in front of their face that the machines are designed to make them lose.”
Cr Atkinson likened the messages to those used on retail tobacco packaging in Australia.
“These warnings provide a clear message about harmful health consequences of tobacco products,” he said.
“Mandating public health product warning messages stating, ‘this machine is designed to keep you playing and programmed for you to lose money’, clearly visible on each machine to anyone who is using would ensure those using the machines are provided with evidence-based warning message.”
Cr Goble applauded the motion.
“Sadly, I believe the power of poker machine operators is too great and this outcome is highly unlikely,” she said.
“I think it will be fought against and we could possibly compromise with signs in venues or bathrooms,” she said.
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