THE push for pokies at White Hills’ Wellington Hotel will not go ahead, stalling plans for redevelopment at the site.
Bendigo Stadium Limited had applied to install 44 new electronic gaming machines at the Napier Street venue but had the application rejected in August by the Victorian gambling and liquor regulator.
That came after City of Greater Bendigo councillors had also voted against the plan in June
last year. The stadium’s board had applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have the decision overturned, but this week announced it had withdrawn the appeal.
Board chairman Mark Lennox said the stadium would focus on the expansion of its West Bendigo sporting complex, which is due to open next month.
BSL took control of the Wellington (formerly the Botanical Hotel) in October 2015.
Former BSL chair Brendon Goddard had previously stated that plans for a redevelopment of the venue would only go ahead if the application for the pokie machines was approved.
The pokies application was rejected by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, which found it was “likely” that installing pokies at the venue would have had a detrimental social impact.
The commission considered the proposed plans and determined it was satisfied the premises were suitable for the management and operation of pokies, but said the social disbenefits “clearly outweigh” the benefits of the plan.
BSL’s plan for redevelopment of the venue was estimated to be worth up to $2 million, but the commission noted uncertainty about how much of that expenditure – and that of food and beverage contracts once the expansion was complete – would be retained within the council area.
Mr Lennox said there would be no change to the Wellington’s operations as a result of the decision to withdraw the
“It is business as usual for the Wellington,” he said.
“We have been building up the core business over the past two years, and we will ensure great customer experiences continue to be provided to the White Hills and Epsom communities.
“The board feels it is more prudent to reposition our focus towards delivering a great result at our West Bendigo sporting precinct.”
– Joel Peterson