Macedon Ranges SC v Romsey Hotel

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Significance

  • The Romsey Hotel decision influenced how applications for gaming machines are heard at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • It set a precedent for future hearings that decisions must take into account the character of the community and the sort of community where people want to live.

Facts

  • In 2004, the Romsey Hotel lodged an application to install 30 gaming machines.
  • The Macedon Ranges Shire Council refused the application following substantial community opposition.
  • The then Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation also refused the Romsey Hotel's application two years later, in 2006.
  • In 2007, the hotel owner took the case to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, where the tribunal overturned the commission's decision and approved the machines.
  • The tribunal found that any negative effects of pokie machines would be outweighed by the positive economic benefits to the area.
  • The tribunal hearing did not take into account the community objections that had been presented to the commission.
  • Macedon Ranges Shire Council then voted to appeal the tribunal's decision in the Supreme Court on behalf of its community.

Decision

  • In 2008, the Supreme Court of Victoria ruled the tribunal was in error in approving the application.
  • The court found that community opposition is a relevant consideration in determining the social and economic impact of a proposal and therefore must be considered as required by the Gambling Regulation Act 2003.
  • The court set the original decision aside, and sent the case went back to the tribunal to be reheard.
  • On 12 November 2009, the tribunal decided to refuse the application for gaming machines.

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