poker machines

By Evelyn Leckie

Mitchell Shire Council will make a submission opposing Hogan’s Hotel’s application for an extra 20 poker machines at its Wallan premises.

The decision comes after a special council meeting last week where all councillors in attendance voted unanimously to submit a Social and Economic Impact Assessment to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

The assessment, carried out by SGS Economics and Planning, details the social and economic impacts on the Mitchell Shire Council community if 20 extra poker machines are added.

Councillors Rob Eldridge, Rhonda Sanderson and Fiona Stevens raised their concerns while referring to the detrimental statistics and figures in the assessment.

SGS Economics and Planning reported an estimated $6.9 million social and economic loss to the Mitchell Shire Council community if 20 more poker machines were added to the Hogan’s Hotel premises.

“The figures are confronting,” Cr Sanderson said.“An increase of electronic gaming machines increases the loss to our local community – and it’s a direct cost to us.”

Cr Stevens acknowledged the benefits that Hogan’s Hotel provided to the community and highlighted their reasons for the application.

“The reason given by Hogan’s is to improve their financial position and cater to the growing demand,” she said.

“However, I don’t believe the Social and Economic Impact Assessment substantiates Hogan’s Hotel’s reasons for the application.”

Cr Sanderson said she was disappointed with the timing of the application, which council received on January 2.

“Staff were working hard over the holiday break over this issue because it’s important,” she said.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation oversees the conduct of gambling in Victoria and is the statutory authority to determine whether an application for a gaming license should be granted.

The commission will consider the application on April 2.