Needs of Castlemaine residents 'ignored' in VCAT ruling on pokies

OVERLOOKED: Clubs Victoria say VCAT ruling on gaming licenses ignored needs of Castlemaine community
OVERLOOKED: Clubs Victoria say VCAT ruling on gaming licenses ignored needs of Castlemaine community

A proposed pokies venue in Castlemaine that was blocked by the state’s administrative tribunal would have been a vibrant social hub, the peak body for licensed clubs says.

Clubs Victoria executive director Richard Evans said the needs of local residents who wanted somewhere to socialise were ignored in the VCAT decision.

Mr Evans said the 1560 members Castlemaine Sports and Community Club made up a strong proportion of the local community and that their views were overlooked.

“We’re disappointed with the recent VCAT decision,” he said.

“We know that there is strong community support for the not-for-profit clubs model where profits go back into the community.”

VCAT deputy president Mark Dwyer ruled the negative social impact of poker machines outweighed any “moderate economic benefits” to the town.

Maryborough Highland Society – which was planning to develop a disused railway shed into a function centre complete with 65 poker machines – has withdrawn all planning applications for the site.

Maryborough Highland Society general manager Malcolm Blandthorn said a fund-raiser night would be held to raise money for the Castlemaine Sports and Community Club.

“I’m sure they want to get a club going, with or without pokies,” he said.

“They’ll start putting their heads together for ideas for a venue.”

Clubs Victoria government relations manager Shannon Gill said without the proposed venue Castlemaine residents would be left with a shortage of entertainment options.

“They’re the sort of places where people come together for a community reason,” he said. 

“They provide a great alternative spot where people can meet up.

“I just hope those people in Castlemaine who wanted this club aren’t forgotten in all this.”

The Castlemaine Sports and Community Club are holding a general meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the future direction of the club.