Wed, Sep 18, 8:02am by Staff Writer
Monbulk Bowling Club will soon add 10 pokies to its gaming room.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation approved the club’s application to increase its electronic gaming machine stable from 30 to 40 on 21 August.
The commission said the machines would likely have a “marginal positive social impact” and “a nil to marginal positive economic impact.”
“The commission has determined that on the evidence before it, the ‘no net detriment’ test has been satisfied,” the VCGLR report said.
The 10 new pokies would increase the EGM density in the Yarra Ranges by 2 per cent and the average gaming expenditure per adult by 1.1 per cent, or $2.64.
The Moores Road venue was established in 1965 and added EGMs in 1996, according to the Ranges Trader.
It has about 470 members and welcomes about 4000 patrons per week to its bowling greens, bar, bistro, entertainment area, club members area and gaming room.
Monbulk Bowling Club general manager Denise Rutzou said in May that adding the extra machines would help to fund a $1.7 million renovation, and would give players more choice.
“We aim to be competitive with the venues off the mountain,” she said.
“With 10 more machines it will allow the club to enhance its facilities and contribute further to its community benefits.”
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) May 30, 2019
Extra pokies at the Monbulk Bowling Club would have a negative impact on the community, according to the Yarra Ranges Council.
The Ranges Trader reported in July 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.”
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.
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