The Bendigo Club

THE gambling regulator has approved 16 new poker machines for the Bendigo Club in Strathdale after its owner, the Kilmore Racing Club, promised to increase to $55,000 a year in community

But the Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor Regulation gave short shrift to the City of Greater Bendigo’s submission opposing the increase, ahead of the council’s work to update its gaming policy.

The commission found there would be no net harm to the community to increase the number of poker machines to 60 at the Bendigo Club, and the extra number did not push machines in the city area over its local government limit.

The commission disagreed with the council’s submission suggesting the Bendigo Club was trying to minimise its total tax

“Council contended in its report that the one motivation for the application was tax reduction and that this is a disbenefit because the City of Greater Bendigo relies on tax paid to the government to undertake its activities for the benefit of the municipality,” the commission’s finding said.

“The commission finds that any differential in the tax paid to the government as a result of this application is not a relevant consideration as to the economic impacts and does not apportion any weight to this factor.”

It also disagreed with the council’s estimates that new gamblers would account for 80 per cent of the club’s takings after the pokies increase.

The club’s estimate of 20 per cent was a reasonable estimate, the commission said.

Also helping Bendigo Club’s application was the relative economic advantage of the surrounding suburb, and its commitment to reinvest in the club’s facilities for community use.

General manager Adrian McMahon said the club supported more than 35 sporting and community groups, many using the facilities at little or no cost.

“The addition of these machines will allow us to build a new community hub, which will be used by the Woodbury Bowling Club and other not-for-profit groups,” he said.

The club will also increase barriers to gambling, promising to construct a wall and doors between the bistro and the gaming room.

– Sharon Kemp