Pokies appeal

Mitchell Shire Council will go to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to appeal the decision to approve an extra 20 gaming machines at Hogan’s Hotel in Wallan.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation last month approved Hogan’s application for an additional 20 gaming machines.

Council made its decision at a special confidential meeting last week and is now preparing to lodge an appeal with VCAT.

If a review at VCAT occurs, the tribunal will consider all evidence and submissions to make its own decision on the merits of the application.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm said many people in the community had expressed anger, concern and disappointment about the commission’s decision.

“We have also heard strong concerns from many organisations and service providers involved in assisting people who are experiencing gambling harm,” he said.

“This council is concerned about the negative effects of gambling harm in our community, particularly in a growth area with areas of significant social disadvantage.

“Council has a legislated duty of care to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of our community.

“This is also supported through Council’s Electronic Gaming Machine Policy, Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan and Advocacy Priorities.”

Cr Chisholm said while there was no guarantee of success from the appeal, it was important to take action.

“We want to do our part to protect the long-term wellbeing of our community into the future,” he said.

Following a hearing in April, the hotel’s application to increase its gaming machines from 45 to 65 was approved.

As a condition of the new permit, the hotel must increase its community contributions to $100,000 a year for as long as any of the additional gaming machines are in operation.

Hogan’s management declined to comment on the council’s appeal plans.