Commission grants application for additional 16 pokies at the Bendigo Club
Friday, 29 December 2017
On 21 December 2017, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation approved an application from Kilmore Racing Club Inc to increase the number of pokies at the Bendigo Club from 44 to 60.
On 1 November 2017, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation heard an application from Kilmore Racing Club Inc to increase the number of pokies at the Bendigo Club in the City of Greater Bendigo from 44 to 60.
The City of Greater Bendigo opposed the application but did not appear at the hearing.
On 21 December 2017, the commission granted the application.
The commission found there would be a slightly positive social and economic impact on the wellbeing of the Greater Bendigo community if the application was approved, and hence the 'no net detriment' test was met.
The commission's approval is subject to the following conditions:
- Kilmore Racing Club must make an annual cash contribution of $21,500 (increased each year in line with CPI) for as long as the additional 16 machines operate at the Bendigo Club. This additional contribution must be allocated each year to not-for-profit community and sporting organisations providing services and facilities to Greater Bendigo residents. These contributions are additional to the existing $65,000 in-kind and $33,500 cash contributions made each year by Kilmore Racing Club to community and sporting organisations in Greater Bendigo.
- upgrade works at the Bendigo Club must be substantially completed with 18 months of the additional machines being installed. This includes the installation of a frosted glass door as a sight-screen to reduce the exposure of children to gambling at the club. If the upgrade works are not substantially completed with 18 months, operation of the additional 16 machines must cease immediately.
Economic impact benefits and disbenefits
In making this determination, the commission weighed the following economic impact benefits and disbenefits.
- Gaming expenditure not associated with problem gambling was given marginal weight.
- The portion of new gaming expenditure not attributable to problem gambling is an economic benefit. The Bendigo Club is located in an area of lower relative socio-economic disadvantage (although with some vulnerability to financial stress), while Greater Bendigo has a higher relative socio-economic profile. The commission also considered that 80 per cent of the new gaming expenditure is anticipated to be transferred from other gaming venues in Greater Bendigo.
- Expenditure on capital works was given marginal weight.
- Renovations to the club, at an estimated cost of $390,790, are to be made. Although the proposed renovations are considered modest in the context of Greater Bendigo, the club intends to source all of the goods and services locally.
- Complementary expenditure was given no weight.
- Although all goods and services for the club renovations will be sourced locally, no evidence was presented on local sourcing of additional complementary expenditure, such as food and beverage.
- Increased gaming competition in Greater Bendigo was given no to marginal weight.
- The additional machines will increase gaming competition in Greater Bendigo by providing more choice for gaming patrons and making the venue more competitive. However, the small number of additional machines at the club compared to the whole of Greater Bendigo is considered to be of limited benefit.
- Additional employment was given no to marginal weight.
- There was no evidence of short-term employment benefits associated with the capital works to the club. There will be longer term benefits following completion of the renovations, with the employment of two full-time equivalent positions. However, the commission took account of the possible transfer of employment from other businesses in Greater Bendigo.
- Gaming expenditure associated with problem gambling was given marginal weight.
- The portion of new gaming expenditure attributable to problem gambling is an economic disbenefit. The commission considered the area surrounding the Bendigo Club exhibits a lower level of disadvantage than the rest of Greater Bendigo overall, making it less susceptible to gambling-related harms. In addition, the club has implemented a number of positive measures in relation to responsible service of gaming (RSG), as well as proposed new measures to effectively mitigate problem gambling.
- Diversion of trade from other gaming venues was given no to marginal weight.
- The anticipated gaming transfer rate of 80 per cent is expected to be spread across a number of existing gaming venues within and outside Greater Bendigo. As a result of this dispersion, the diversion of trade is unlikely to significantly impact any one gaming venue.
- Reduction in tax paid to the government was given no weight.
- The commission considered that any gaming tax savings for the club resulting from the additional machines would be incidental and did not apportion any weight to this economic impact.
Social impact benefits and disbenefits
In making this determination, the commission weighed the following social impact benefits and disbenefits.
- Improved facilities enabling a greater range of services was given low weight.
- Renovations at the club will include improvements to the bowling green and the existing hospitality facilities. As there will be no new facilities or substantial change to the range of entertainment on offer, the commission considers this benefit to be of low weight.
- Increased gaming opportunities for those who enjoy gaming was given marginal weight.
- Gaming patrons will have an additional 16 machines they may choose to play. However, the commission considered the benefit is of minimal impact as there are 10 other gaming venues with 597 machines in Greater Bendigo.
- Social benefit derived from increased community contributions was given marginal weight.
- Community contributions to not-for-profit community and sporting groups will increase by $21,500, bringing them to a total of $120,000 each year. While the proposed additional contribution is relatively small, these contributions will have a positive social impact on a broad range of community and sporting groups in Greater Bendigo.
- Possibility of increased incidence and the potential impact of problem gambling on the community was given marginal weight.
- A proportion of total gaming expenditure at the Bendigo Club will be associated with problem gambling contributed by a small proportion of total gaming patrons. Adverse impacts include health, jobs, finances, emotional states and relationships. The area around the Bendigo Club exhibits marginally lower levels of socio-economic disadvantage compared to Greater Bendigo as a whole. The commission also considered the Bendigo Club displays a genuine commitment to good RSG practice, and intends to make improvements to the layout of the club to reduce the emphasis on gaming.
- Community attitude and wellbeing was given no weight.
- Greater Bendigo Council made a submission that there is a negative community attitude to gambling. However, the commission considered the submission relied on a general survey and did not consider the potential impact on community wellbeing from this specific application.
- Increase exposure of children to gambling activity was given no weight.
- There will be no changes at the club that will increase the exposure of children to the sights and/or sounds of gaming machines. The current RSG practices, as well as the installation of a frosted glass door as a sight-screen, will provide children some protection from being exposed to gambling.