THE City of Greater Geelong’s bid to prevent an increase in pokies at White Eagle House inBreakwater has been successful, with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) refusing the venue’s application earlier this month.
The Geelong Polish Community Association had applied for more than double the number of pokies at White Eagle House from 35 to 78, which would support about $4.75 million worth of improvement works at the venue.
The council voted to oppose the move, endorsing a spend of up to $30,000 to appear in person at the hearing with legal representation and an expert independent witness.
An assessment by City of Greater Geelong officers found that a pokies increase at White Eagle House would be detrimental to the community.
In line with its Electronic Gaming Machines policy, the city argued against the application on the basis that White Eagle House is in an area of social and economic disadvantage, and the area
already has a higher concentration of pokies
within a 2.5km radius than the average density
across the municipality.
There are 20 pokies per 1000 adults in the immediate area surrounding White Eagle House, against a region-wide average of only 2.5 machines per 1000 adults.
Pokies users lost a total of $1.69 million at White Eagle House during the 2017-18 financial year, an average of $48,391 per machine.
Data from the VCGLR indicates pokies players in Greater Geelong lost a total of more than $81.5 million over the first eight months of the 2018-19 financial year (July to February inclusive). This puts the figure on track to exceed $120 million by the end of June.
“This decision reflects Council’s strong stance on this issue as we seek to protect our community from the damage caused by pokies,” Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood said.
“There’s no doubt a doubling of pokies at White Eagle House would have had a negative impact on residents.”