$4 million project under threat

SHAMROCK Hotel owner Jim Hogan says he will walk away from a $4 million development planned for Bendigo, if 20 extra gaming machines are refused at the hotel. 

Shamrock Hotel owner could walk away

His proposal for the extra machines was opposed by councillors this week, and will now go to the Victorian Commission on Gambling Regulation for final say. 

Mr Hogan says the major redevelopment of the Shamrock Hotel, which will include eight to 10 five-star serviced apartments, relies on revenue generated from new poker machines. 

"I'll walk away if these don't get approved, which will be a real shame for Bendigo," he said. 

"I had a $5 million development planned for Romsey and the council opposed me and convinced VCAT so I sold the hotel and no development went ahead.

"That's definitely a possibility to happen here."

He believed the $4 million development would outweigh any fears from additional gaming machines in the region. 

"Every council has a knee-jerk reaction to gaming and there is no surprise they opposed it," he said. 

"But the cat's out of the bag in regards to gambling - you can bet on harness and greyhound racing, there's tattslotto. 

"And there is already gaming in Bendigo so I can't work out their objection to it."

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.

The additional 20 electronic gaming machines would bring the total number of machines at the venue to 65.

While councillors Elise Champan and Helen Leach say the machines would not promote further gambling in the city, other councillors disagreed. 

The city based its opposition on research and consultation, including an online survey where 86.4 per cent of respondents indicated they did not support additional electronic machines.

The application is also not supported by the city’s gaming policy, as the Shamrock Hotel is located in an area where additional gaming machines are prohibited.

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