Pokies 'vital link' to major hotel project

A MAJOR redevelopment of the Hotel Shamrock relies on funding from new poker machines, owner Jim Hogan says.

Mr Hogan is seeking approval for 20 new gaming machines at the historic venue.

He said tax breaks and revenue from the machines would be used to fund a $4 million development featuring nine five-star apartments.

“The redevelopment won’t go ahead unless I’m successful with the 20 new machines,” Mr Hogan said.

“I’ve invested heavily in the Shamrock over the last six years. I’ve renovated the whole hotel and added facilities. I need the tax breaks and extra revenue to fund the development.”

The first stage of the project will see apartments built above the sports bar, which Mr Hogan wants completed within 12 months.

Stage two will feature eight to 10 five-star serviced apartments on the fifth floor of the Shamrock, which Mr Hogan wants to start in about 18 months.

“There’s nothing like that in Bendigo,” he said.

“It will be massive for the town.

“It will easier for Bendigo Tourism to sell attractions and entice business people to Bendigo.”

Mr Hogan expects to employ more staff if the machines receive approval and about six staff to service the new apartment.

Figures from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation show patrons spent more than $4 million on pokies at the Shamrock in 2012-13, or $90,000 per machine.

City of Greater Bendigo figures show there are 614 machines in 11 venues, which is capped at 756 by the Victorian Commission for Gambling regulation.

Figures show local poker machine losses declined by about $3 million from 2011-12 to 2012-13.

Mr Hogan said he believed problem gambling was being better dealt with.

“It's a concern to all publicans,” he said.  

“We don’t like any of customers to self harm - whether it’s over drinking, over eating or over gambling.” 

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