Bendigo Stadium apply to redevelop The Wellington, install 44 new poker machines

A multi-million refurbishment proposed for a Bendigo drinking hole could see the city’s poker machine tally grow to almost 700.

Bendigo Stadium Limited, which owns White Hills venue The Wellington at Botanical Gardens, submitted an application to redevelop the site with the City of Greater Bendigo today.

If the council and gaming regulators give their approval, the 44 machines will be installed in what was once the hotel’s drive-through bottle shop.

An expansion to the bar and bistro, and improvements to the car park, are also planned in the $2 million upgrade.  

BSL Chief executive officer Jason Wallace said revenue from the new machines would form part of a $15 million contribution to the construction of a new stadium facility over the next 10 years.

More than $9 million was put into Bendigo Stadium and The Borough Club poker machines last year, both of which BSL own.   

VIctorian law demands poker machine venues contribute at least eight per cent of its annual gaming revenue to the community and Mr Wallace said Bendigo Stadium gave “significantly more than that”. 

Gaming revenue was also used to pay wages and maintain the stadium. 

“If a hotelier had it, we wouldn't see anything given back to the community,” he said. 

The Productivity Commission also noted the risks of problem gambling were low for people who only played lotteries and scratchies, but rose steeply with the frequency of gambling on table games, wagering and especially gaming machines. 

But BSL said it “care[d] passionately” about curbing gambling harm and did not “seek to attract any person who cannot afford gaming”.

Bendigo has seven poker machines for every 1000 adults who live in the city.

In 2015-16, Victorians lost $2.6 billion on poker machines across the state, $44.7 million more than the previous year.