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Romsey Redbacks slot application for pokies at Romsey Hotel

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

Romsey Football Netball Club has applied for 50 poker machines at the Romsey Hotel, reigniting a debate spanning nearly two decades.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, VGCCC, received the application for the electronic gaming machines, EGMs, from Romsey Football Netball Club, which plans to lease and operate the venue if the application is granted.

The Romsey Hotel has been out of operation since owner Jim Hogan shut its doors in 2017, leaving the Romsey community without a pub for six years.

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Mr Hogan underwent a four-year legal battle after applying for 30 EGMs at the hotel in 2005.

The Supreme Court ruled in Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s favour in 2009 and refused the approval of the pokie machines.

Mr Hogan operated the hotel until 2012 before leasing the property, and when the last tenant went into liquidation in 2017, Mr Hogan shut the hotel.

But beers could flow once again at a newly-refurbished Romsey Hotel – that is, if pokie machines are approved.

In a submission to the VGCCC, Romsey Football Netball Club president Wayne Milburn said the reopening of the Romsey Hotel had to be synonymous with the installation of gaming machines. 

“What is clear from the modelling is that the proposal will not be financially viable if gambling machines are not permitted to operate at the hotel. This is just a fact of life,” he said.

“I acknowledge that there is a small minority of people who are negative about the gaming machines and the TAB but it seems to me, from the conversations I have had, that they accept if they’re going to get the pub back, and a vastly improved pub back, that accepting the gaming is just part and parcel of what is proposed.”

The Romsey Hotel has been closed for six years, but beers could flow once again at the venue – that is, if an application for pokie machines are approved. Photo: James Hogan via VGCCC.

If the application for pokie machines is approved, Romsey Football Netball Club anticipate it would generate between $2.3 to $2.8 million in player losses within the first 12 months of operations.

Also submitted as part of the application, the draft guidelines state that if Romsey Hotel reopens, the first $200,000 of profits plus 30 per cent of the balance of profits would be distributed back to the club.

The club currently has a total annual sponsorship of $50,000.

The remaining profit generated by the hotel would be put into a community chest, to be distributed to community groups as decided by a committee.

Mr Hogan, who also owns Hogan’s Hotel in Wallan and the freehold of Shamrock Hotel in Bendigo, said in his submission that he did not believe the venue would be profitable in its current form.

“It is not viable to understate the works without gaming as any tenant would be unable to pay a rental without revenue from gaming,” Mr Hogan said.

“Essentially, the hotel will be completely rebuilt and significantly extended with substantially more facilities on offer compared to what is currently available.”

Romsey Football Netball Club president Wayne Milburn said the club’s proposal to lease and operate the Romsey Hotel would not be financially viable if gambling machines were not permitted to operate at the Hotel. Pictured is the Romsey Hotel in its current state. Photo: James Hogan via VGCCC.

The proposed ‘substantial’ renovation to the venue is estimated to cost $10 million.

See below the plan of the premise upgrades, as submitted as part of the application to the VGCCC.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council have yet to announce its formal position on the application.

Council agreed to an urgent business item at its October 25 meeting, and authorised officers to notify the VGCCC of its intention to prepare and submit a social and economic impact submission regarding the application for poker machines.

“I’d just like to emphasise that this means the recommendation of this report is not to make a decision by council, whether they are for or against the application, but it provides officers the direction to notify the commission that council will be making a submission,” Cr Bill West said at the October meeting.

Members of the public can provide their own submissions directly to the VGCCC through its website at .

People can also access Romsey Football Netball Club’s submission to the VGCCC, including the full witness statement from Mr Hogan and renovation plans, by visiting the VGCCC’s website.

The date of the hearing is yet to be announced.

Mr Milburn declined to comment and Mr Hogan did not return the Review’s email.

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  1. If it’s good enough for the council to allow pokies in Kyneton it should be good enough for romsey it’s self choice don’t want to play don’t go

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