Pok­ies losses in­crease but more ma­chines on the way

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

As losses on poker ma­chines in War­ragul con­tinue to surge another 20 ma­chines are be­ing in­stalled in the town.

War­ragul Sport­ing and So­cial Club has won its bid for an ex­tra 20 ma­chines that will take the num­ber at the Vic­to­ria St club to 100.

There are al­ready 190 pok­ies (Elec­tronic Gam­ing Ma­chines) in War­ragul’s three venues – the Sport­ing and So­cial Club cur­rently has 80, as does the War­ragul Coun­try Club, and the Club Ho­tel has 30.

The 28 EGMs at the Fam­ily Ho­tel in Drouin bring the to­tal in the shire to 218.

The 20 ad­di­tional ma­chines for the Sport­ing and So­cial Club ap­proved by the Vic­to­rian Com­mis­sion for Gam­ing and Liquor Reg­u­la­tion will boost the num­ber to 238, still short of the State Gov­ern­ment im­posed cap of 299 for the shire.

Gam­ing fig­ures just re­leased by the VCGLR re­veal that dur­ing the six months from last July to De­cem­ber the to­tal amount lost by play­ers of pok­ies in Baw Baw shire rose to $8.1 mil­lion.

This was up al­most 14 per cent on the cor­re­spond­ing July-De­cem­ber pe­riod in the 2015-2016 fi­nan­cial year.

Player losses in the six months un­til the end of last De­cem­ber were well over half the $14.66 mil­lion lost for the en­tire 2015-2016 fi­nan­cial year.

That amount rep­re­sented a 10 per cent in­crease on the 2014-2015 year when to­tal losses in Baw Baw were $13.29 mil­lion.

In its pub­lished re­port stat­ing rea­sons for ap­proval the ex­tra 20 ma­chines for the War­ragul Sport­ing and So­cial Club the VCGLR said the shire would still be un­der the cap on num­bers of pok­ies for the area and it was sat­is­fied there would not be a nett so­cial and eco­nomic ef­fect detri­men­tal to the well-be­ing of the Baw Baw com­mu­nity.

It did, how­ever, point out that the ad­di­tional pok­ies would in­crease the den­sity of ma­chines to 6.5 per 1000 adults liv­ing in the shire.

That is about 20 per cent higher than the av­er­age for re­gional (non-met­ro­pol­i­tan) mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of 5.3 per 1000 adults and the State-wide av­er­age of 5.6.

But there will be some wins for the district com­mu­nity when the Sport­ing and So­cial Club in­stalls the ex­tra EGMs.

The Long­warry Bowls Club, strug­gling financially when it amal­ga­mated with the War­ragul club in 2014, will get a $1.2 mil­lion up­grade and a new $25,000 per year com­mu­nity fund, in­creas­ing in line with Con­sumer Price In­dex (CPI) rises, will be es­tab­lished.

Con­di­tions at­tached to the VCGLR ap­proval re­quire a $300,000 re­de­vel­op­ment of “hospi­tal­ity” (club­house) fa­cil­i­ties at the Long­warry Bowls Club to be sub­stan­tially com­pleted within three years and a $900,000 project to roof the bowl­ing green to en­able all-year play within six years.

The new $25,000 com­mu­nity fund, ad­di­tional to the $40,000-45,000 the Sport­ing and So­cial Club cur­rently pro­vides in do­na­tions and kind to lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions, will be ad­min­is­tered by a com­mit­tee that will in­clude com­mu­nity and Baw Baw Shire rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

While the pop­u­lar­ity of play­ing poker ma­chines con­tin­ues to grow at dou­ble-digit per­cent­age rates in Baw Baw shire the lat­est re­search avail­able from the Vic­to­rian Re­spon­si­ble Gam­bling Foun­da­tion says the ma­chines are the main rea­son for prob­lem gam­bling among the range of gam­bling av­enues avail­able.

It states that for those with gam­bling prob­lems play­ing pok­ies was the most com­mon ac­tiv­ity, where they spent most money and played more in­tensely for longer pe­ri­ods.

The Foun­da­tion cat­e­gorises only 0.7 per cent of the State’s adult pop­u­la­tion as be­ing prob­lem gam­blers but another 8.1 per cent are at “mod­er­ate or low risk” of hav­ing gam­bling prob­lems.

It iden­ti­fies a prob­lem gam­bler as “some­one that spends more money or time on gam­bling than they can af­ford”.

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