Pub ups stake for pokies

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THE Mornington on Tanti Hotel’s request for another 17 poker machines – almost doubling its number to 40 – is following the community support fund route argued successfully by the Western Bulldogs-owned Peninsula Club, which was successful in lifting its pokie numbers from 20 to 35 a year ago.

Tanti is proposing “to formalise an annual community support fund and undertake new works to improve [the] venue” if granted its additional electronic gaming machines (EGMs).

The hearing was listed for 23 March but at deadline no one at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation was available to provide information on the status of the application.

Dromana’s Peninsula Club offered $30,000 indexed to the consumer price index for a community support fund. The Tanti proposal was for a $50,000 community fund donation and a cut of two EGMs, councillors were told at a recent meeting.

Tanti differs from the Peninsula Club in that it is a private profit operation. The Peninsula Club, formerly the Dromana-Red Hill RSL, houses and supports the RSL, which provides welfare support for some 30 veterans and substantial help to individuals and groups. This includes:

  • School scholarships of up to $3000 annually;
  • Donations to veterans’ centres and Rosebud Hospital;
  • Providing transport to medical appointments and for shopping;
  • Home, nursing home and hospital visits.

A second gambling venue in Dromana, Stella’s Hotel, failed recently to secure an extra nine poker machines.

In its reasons for refusing the Stella’s application, the commission said it was “not satisfied that the net economic and social impact … will not be detrimental to the well-being of the community, including the immediately surrounding area or the wider area of the Mornington Peninsula Shire”.

Stella’s, also a private organisation, was mentioned in the Peninsula Club hearing. Peninsula Club patrons not able to access an EGM would often leave the club and walk to the nearby hotel, which had a greater number and selection of machines, hospitality manager Peter Dern told the commission.

The shire opposes further gaming machines. Shire officers have admitted the council’s 2001 responsible gaming strategy was out of date, as was a gaming policy framework prepared in 2007 for southeast region councils including the shire.

The News understands the shire will publish a new gambling policy in about a month. It will contain details about harm minimisation and directions for gaining maximum benefit for the whole community from gaming venues.

Mornington Peninsula Shire has 17 gaming venues operating up to 826 EGMS.

At present some 806 machines are operating, which is well under the municipal limit of 1127 machines. This is 6.66 EGMs per 1000 adults – 20 per cent greater than the metropolitan average and 15 per cent higher than the Victorian average.

In terms of annual gaming expenditure, peninsula adults put an average of $653 apiece through the machines, 12 per cent higher than the metropolitan average and 19 per cent higher than the state average.

This of course is concentrated into those who actually play the EGMs.

On the social and economic disadvantage scale the Dromana area ranks 63 of Victoria’s 79 statistical local areas (the peninsula has three of these), indicating a relatively high leval of disadvantage in the catchment area.