City of Whittlesea
South Morang, Victoria
Evidence informs the refusal of poker machines at the Commercial Hotel.
Since being legalised in 1992, electronic gaming machines (more commonly known as ‘pokies’) have become ubiquitous. A total of 530 venues across Victoria now offer access to this form of gambling. In 2015/16, more than $2.6 billion was lost in Victoria by machine users.
We completed a social and economic impact assessment on an application to introduce 40 pokies at the Commercial Hotel in South Morang. The Commercial Hotel is the only remaining urban pub in the Whittlesea local government area (with a resident population of around 200,000) that does not currently offer pokies.
Local stakeholder groups objected to the application for many reasons. The Commercial Hotel’s application described several design and implementation features intended to minimise the likelihood of the machines contributing to the growth of problem gambling in the region. It also highlighted a range of economic and social benefits associated with their introduction.
However, our independent analysis found that any benefits were substantially outweighed by the costs that introducing electronic gaming machines were likely to impose on both the economy and community of South Morang and the surrounding region.
Our team presented these findings at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation hearing, as part of Council’s submission against the application. The evidence we gave contributed to the Commission’s recommendation that the application for pokies at the Commercial Hotel be refused.