Tue, Jul 30, 7:48am by Staff Writer
Punters in Victoria’s south west lost more than $43.3 million to the region’s poker machines in the last financial year according to the latest figures.
The Standard is reporting that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation shows a total of $43,396,107 was spent in the City of Warrnambool, Colac-Otway and Glenelg shires in the 2018/19 financial year.
The region’s total expenditure saw a 2.3 per cent increase from a year ago.
More than $19 million was spent at Warrnambool’s eight poker machine venues, up 1.5 per cent from the previous year.
Glenelg’s four venues spiked 2.3 per cent, raking in more than $10 million, while the five Colac-Otway venues drew more than $13 million, up 4.9 per cent.
The data set merged Corangamite and Colac-Otway shires, with no poker machines in Moyne Shire.
In the last financial year, punters spent the most at Warrnambool’s Mac’s Hotel with more than $3.8 million expended, followed by the City Memorial Bowls Club with more than $3.3 million spent.
Mac’s Hotel saw a 7.3 per cent jump in its expenditure from the year before, while the City Memorial Bowls Club saw a three per cent drop.
City Memorial Bowls Club general manager Julie Dosser said the decrease in expenditure was most likely a result of closures at the club as it embarks on a $3 million development.
“We are building a cover over two of our greens, hopefully to encourage more participation in the sport of bowls,” she said.
“There’s probably been a lot less traffic as we’ve been down a couple of greens while we are developing. The Cramer Street car park has also been closed.”
Portland’s Richmond Henty Hotel had the biggest expenditure in the Glenelg Shire, with $2,461,589 spent in the last financial year.
That figure was down two per cent from the year before.
Bethany Community Support South West Services executive manager Sharlene Gillick said gambling harm was a public health issue that affected not only individuals, but also their families, friends and whole communities.
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“Gambling harm can include financial distress, relationship and family concerns, loss of employment or inability to maintain employment and mental health impacts.
“We know that people experiencing gambling harm have greater mental health concerns, sometimes undiagnosed, and often a co-morbidity of alcohol or drug abuse or family violence.
“Whilst most gambling activities are legal and highly regulated, many people gamble and are seen to be in the low risk group of gamblers.”
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 earlier this month 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.”
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