The state’s gambling regulator had changed tack with its decision-making on poker machines, which had been driven by scathing public criticism of prior rulings, according to Bendigo Stadium’s chairman.
Brendon Goddard, whose organisation’s application to install 44 poker machines at a White Hills hotel was refused by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation on Monday, said it would consider a legal challenge at a board meeting next week.
“They (VCGLR) have made decisions which they weren't making 12 months ago,” he said.
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“I think they (VGCLR) have come under a serious amount of criticism for previous decisions made, for not weighing up the benefits or harm to the community.
“I can't say I'm not surprised, and I can't say I’m not disappointed.”
While he respected the VCGLR’s decision, Mr Goddard said he couldn’t understand the logic behind a number of explanations in the commission’s report.
Bendigo Stadium can challenge the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but a protracted legal battle would be costly, part of which could be borne by Bendigo ratepayers if the City of Greater Bendigo chose to be involved at the hearing.
It is currently unclear what grounds a challenge could be based upon, and Mr Goddard said his personal opinion was if the city became involved it would be unfair on residents.
“We could spend $400,000, half of which would be community money and I don't think that's right,” he said.
“Gambling is a legal activity but there is a consciousness in the community which is against it.”
City of Greater Bendigo acting health and wellbeing director Caroline Grylls said the city welcomed the decision.
“In June, council endorsed a submission lodged with the VCGLR outlining that the overall social and economic impact of the proposed application for a new gaming premises and installation of 44 EGM at the Wellington was detrimental and therefore did not support the application by the Bendigo Stadium,” she said.
A separate planning permit with regards to a broader development at the Wellington Hotel has been received by the city and will be considered in the coming moths, Ms Grylls said.
The Bendigo Club earlier this month applied to install a further 16 poker machines at the Park Street venue.