Victoria’s gambling regulator has approved a Wyndham venue’s application to acquire an additional 12 poker machines.
It clears the way for Tarneit’s Hotel 520 to boost its number of Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) from 65 to 77.
The City of Wyndham was opposed to the bid, objecting on the grounds it would increase gambling harm on residents.
In its reasons for granting the application the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) concluded the EGMs increase “satisfied” the ‘no net detriment’ test.
The benchmark requires the commission to weigh the likely positive social and economic impacts of an application against the likely negative social and economic impacts.
Commissioners concluded that adding more pokies “will not be detrimental” and said they were “satisfied that the approval will result in an impact that is finely balanced and neutral.”
Last year punters lost $13,433,100 at the venue.
A spokesperson for the commission said conditions that would minimise gambling harm were imposed on the venue, as well as a requirement for an annual cash contribution of $125,000 to not-for-profit community groups and sporting organisations within the local government area.
“Prior to installing the additional 12 EGMs, the venue operator must have an approved harm minimisation policy and procedures manual to enshrine timely, proactive and effective practices to minimise harm arising from the use of EGMs,” the spokesperson said.
Adjoining councils also objected to the application, with the City of Melton, Geelong and Brimbank all submitting opposing letters.
In 2022 Geelong Council successfully opposed the Valley Inn’s bid for 10 more pokies, submitting a Social and Economic Impact Assessment of community attitudes and feedback towards the application that found more than 86 per cent of people were opposed.
Commissioners noted that the City of Wyndham did not conduct such an assessment, despite it being a common practice in such application hearings.
“In other applications, consumer attitude surveys were undertaken and submitted to the commission as evidence either in support of, or opposition to, an application,” commissioners noted.
A lack of such an assessment in the City of Wyndham’s case resulted in “leaving the Commission without the capacity to reliably assess the extent of the broader community attitude to the Application.”