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Residents fight back in Brisbane pokies battle

Fri, Nov 30, 12:57pm by Staff Writer

More than 50 residents in Brisbane’s west gathered last Tuesday night to plan a boycott of the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.

The move comes after the Pig ‘N’ Whistle pub’s plan to install 45 poker machines inside a family-friendly shopping centre was approved by the Queensland State Government recently.

The application also included extending trading hours until 4am, which was also approved.

The community meeting was hosted by local Greens MP Michael Berkman, who said it was wrong to put pokies inside a shopping centre that prided itself on being family-friendly.

“The location is so grossly inappropriate that the regulator rejected an almost identical application back in 1998,” Mr Berkman said.

“Nothing will be achieved unless we fight for it,” he said.

The Supreme Court is the next step for the community to seek action to stop the move after the new poker machines and extended trading hours were approved by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“There was no community consultation and this is the only way to make the Pig ‘N’ Whistle, the shopping centre and the government know that the community doesn’t want this,” Indooroopilly resident Dr Robyn Pacey said.

Venue will have to adhere to strict rules

A spokeswoman for the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation said the pokies would be put in a “designated gaming area which is not easily accessible.”

“It is located at the rear of the premises. The machines would not be visible to persons outside of the hotel, including from inside the shopping centre,” she said.

“Further, as a condition of their license, the licensee is required to ensure the gaming machine area is under constant supervision to ensure that minors do not enter the area.”

The Pig ‘N’ Whistle is owned by the Mantle Ground and is close to a food court, shops, an Event cinema and public areas.

A survey organised by the opponents of the plan found that 80 per cent of respondents did not want poker machines at the shopping centre.

Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was quizzed on the issue at a press conference in early November saying, “that a matter for the independency of the (Office of) liquor and Gaming (Regulation).”

Queensland has a statewide cap of 19,500 gaming machines for hotels and taverns.

The cap is managed via a scheme where any licensee who wishes to install and operate gaming machines must first purchase an operating authority for each one via a tender process organised by the public trustee.

The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation has stated that the licensee had submitted a community impact statement as part of its application.

The Brisbane Times reported that Queenslanders lost A$2 billion on pokies in the 12 months to July 2017.

A$215 million was lost in the month of July 2017 alone on poker machines.

The Queensland Government received A$687 million in revenue from gaming machine taxes in 2016-17 according to budget papers.

The Government distributes almost A$53 million per year from gambling taxes to community groups under the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.

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