Wed, May 29, 8:31am by Staff Writer
Gaming machines not reaching their cap in Mitchell Shire and ‘no net detriment’ to the community were two reasons detailed in a report by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s decision to accept an application by Hogan’s Hotel to install 20 extra gaming machines.
The North Central Review is reporting that the 20 extra machines will take the Wallan hotel’s gaming machine numbers to 85.
The report released on Friday says granting the application would not see the Shire reach its regional cap for gaming machines – following the removal of all poker machines from Wandong’s Magpie and Stump hotel.
The application was approved on the condition that the works to the gaming room are completed before the new machines are in operation and Hogan’s Hotel increases its community contributions to $100,000 per year.
Economic benefits identified include expenditure on capital words and additional employment while social benefits identified include improved facilities and the impact of the community contributions.
“The applicant is a significant contributor to the social fabric of the community in which it is located and the community will be enhanced by the applicant’s contributions,” the report said.
Negative impacts identified by the report include increased problem gambling expenditure, the possibility of an increased incidence and potential impact of problem gambling on the community and community attitude.
“A number of individuals and community groups opposed the application, however the opposition generally expressed opposition to electronic gaming machines in general rather than the specific proposal before the commission,” the report said.
A Mitchell Shire council spokesperson said an independent report prepared for council showed there would be a detrimental social and economic impact of $6.84 million if the 20 new machines were introduced.
“Council is disappointed in the decision and has 28 days to consider and lodge an appeal,” the spokesperson said.
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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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