Castlemaine pokies verdict awaited

The Mount Alexander Shire and Enough Pokies in Castlemaine have tried to stop the Maryborough Highland Society from building a sports club with 65 poker machines. 

The council argued that the machines would add to problem gambling, in turn causing suicide, depression, bankruptcy and divorce. 

But Maryborough Highland Society general manager Malcolm Blandthorn said the venture would generate jobs and give profits back to the community. 

A Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing finished yesterday with both sides awaiting the outcome. 

“We’re confident moving forward,” Mr Blandthorn said.

“We believe the arguments we put forward were based on law and should therefore be accepted. 

“We think we put together a very strong argument.

“But it’s very much a wait-and-see game at this stage.” 

Mount Alexander Shire mayor Michael Redden said the development would need to pass the council’s planning rules following the VCAT decision. 

He said the council’s planning laws had to include social considerations. 

“I think we’ve very clearly argued a case that this will be a social detriment to our community,” he said. 

“I think we’ve argued sufficiently strongly that we have a chance of getting a decision.”

 He said the club had noted the benefits of the development in new dining facilities, conference areas, meeting rooms and employment. 

“The supporters say those considerations outweigh the problems that come with problem gambling,” he said. 

“But there would be a lot of fallout from people who fall under the grip of poker machines.

“On the balance it would be to the detriment to the community.” 

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