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Victorian hotel wants to add 20 more gaming machines

Wed, Mar 6, 9:27am by Staff Writer

Councillors in Mitchell Shire in Victoria will decide its stance on more poker machines in the municipality at a meeting next Tuesday.

Mitchell Shire is home to more than 40,000 residents and includes towns such as Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour and Wallan.

Wallan’s Hogan’s Hotel has applied to add 20 additional poker machines to its venue, with next week’s special council meeting held to assess whether or not the proposal is in line with its Electronic Gaming Policy and Planning Policy.

The Electronic Gaming Policy states that: “electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are a part of Mitchell Shire’s recreation and entertainment offering; however, for a significant few EGMs can cause serious financial, personal and social impacts.”

The policy also states that council notes EGMs are associated with a high prevalence of problem gambling and that EGMs can be the source of significant adverse social and economic consequences for problem gamblers.

Thousands a day splurged on EGMs in Mitchell Shire

Hogan’s Hotel has applied to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation to expand its gaming facilities from 45 to 65, with a hearing set for April 2.

In the past financial year, more than A$18 million was lost on pokies in the region, equated to more than A$50,000 per day.

There are five venues with EGMs in Mitchell Shire and a total of 228 machines in the region.

The area ranks 39th in terms of highest pokies expenditure in the state and 47th for socio-economic disadvantage according to statistics from the Victorian Responsible Gambling website.

The average loss per adult in the Shire is A$574.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm said council would consider making a submission to the commission.

“While Mitchell Shire Council is not a decision-making authority for this matter, we do have an opportunity to make a submission and will be considering that at the special council meeting,” he said.

“I also encourage community members to view the application and consider making a submission to show their support or concern,” Cr Chisholm said.

Kim Head from community charity Love in Action has seen first hand the impact of electronic gaming machines on people in the community.

“I’ve seen homelessness because of it. I’ve had one woman who’s banned herself just recently from attending the pokies, and the only reason she went was because she was lonely,” Ms Head said.

Ms Head also has first hand family experience regarding this issue, with a family member losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on gaming machines.

“In two years, she spent $400,000 in the pokies just because she had nothing else, she was depressed, she was lonely,” she said.

Poker machines were first installed at Hogan’s Hotel in 2004, with the original 30 machines expanded to 45 in 2012.

The owner of Hogan’s Hotel Jim Hogan told the North Central Review that the hotel provided A$80,000 in voluntary cash and contributions to sporting clubs, charities and community groups in the past financial year.

In a statement, he said that the hotel would increase its contribution to a minimum of A$100,000 if the application were approved.

In addition to an expanded gaming lounge, the A$2.4 million planned redevelopment of the hotel would include a new verandah, expansion of the existing kitchen and other minor refurbishments.

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