Greater Bendigo loses on pokies

By Julian Bajkowski

The City of Greater Bendigo has hit out a decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) wave through the installation of 30 more pokies at Bendigo Stadium, saying its surveys show the majority of the town’s population don’t want the gambling devices.

The decision against the council is the latest in a series of stoushes where local governments are trying to limit the spread of pokies in their communities based on concerns about harmful social side-effects.

“The City continues to be concerned about the negative impact of problem gambling on the social and economic wellbeing of the community, which is the whole basis of our policy,” Greater Bendigo’s director of planning and development, Prue Mansfield said.

According to the council, Greater Bendigo held consultations with the community including polling that found 61 per cent of respondents “did not want to see additional gaming machines at the Stadium".

“This decision proves yet again how difficult it is for communities to express their concerns about the negative impact that gaming machines can have on them,” Ms Mansfield said.

“VCAT has decided that in this case, the benefit from the expanded community facilities outweighs the negative impact of gaming on vulnerable individuals and families.

Greater Bendigo’s anti-pokies stand comes as the pokies and clubs lobby continues to direct a campaign of criticism against Canberra for its implementation of trials of voluntary pre-commitment technology for pokies.

“The Federal Government has given itself the power to tax clubs and hotels to cover the huge cost of running the bureaucracy that will oversee voluntary pre-commitment technology on poker machines,” Clubs Australia said in a statement on Wednesday.

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