A Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation decision to knock back an application to install 44 new poker machines as part of a redeveloped Wellington Hotel is a welcome one.
The commission concluded there was likely to be a “small net negative social and economic impact” to the well-being of the community in the area if the extra machines were installed, and it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
As reported by the Bendigo Advertiser in May, just over 15 per cent of revenue pumped into the city’s four existing gambling venues by problem gamblers is returned to the community, according to community benefit statements the clubs lodge with the state government.
And while the commission acknowledged evidence suggesting clubs are less attractive venues for problem gamblers due to their relationships with members and sign-in requirements, it also stated it was “not provided with evidence that gave it confidence” procedures or strategies to manage risks associated with problem gambling were being followed at the Bendigo Stadium’s existing venues and that “this may be translated to the [Wellington] if the application were to be granted”.
“During the commissioners' visit to the two club venues currently operated by the applicant in the [local government area], although there was signage relating to visitors signing in at the venues, the requirement for visitors to sign in prior to entry was not enforced by the venues on those occasions,” the VCGLR report reads.
“Accordingly, the commission is less assured that the characteristics of a club, that are usually considered a protective factor against the risk of problem gambling, can be relied on to such an extent in relation to this application.”
Bendigo has enough poker machines.