On 10 October 2016, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation heard an application from Collingwood Football Club Inc to increase the number of pokies at The Coach and Horses in the City of Maroondah from 80 to 90.
The City of Maroondah opposed the application and appeared at the hearing.
The commission was invited to consider the application on the basis that, if it were granted, a substantial ($3.8 million) upgrade of the venue would be completed including: expansion of the bistro, relocation of the children’s play area, reconfiguration of the bar, creation of a new sports bar, reconfiguration of existing and creation of new entrances, and installation of a lift to the first floor. A commitment to complete a more modest $1.2 million renovation was offered in the event that the application was not granted, including: updated paint and carpeting and an update of some furniture and equipment.
On 9 November 2016, the commission granted the application.
The commission found there will be a neutral social and economic impact on the wellbeing of the Maroondah community if the application was approved, and hence the 'no net detriment' test was met.
The commission's approval is subject to conditions that:
- building works to the premises are substantially completed by 30 June 2018
- additional cash contributions of at least $50,000 are made each year to not-for-profit community groups and sporting organisations providing services and facilities to residents in Maroondah.
- In making this determination, the commission weighed the following economic impact benefits and disbenefits.
Expenditure on capital works was given marginal weight.
- While the amount of expenditure ($3.8 million) is substantial, there was limited evidence produced that the goods and services would be procured locally, especially as Maroondah is located within metropolitan Melbourne and the premises are in close proximity to major transport infrastructure.
- Employment creation was given marginal weight.
- It was agreed that granting the application would result in three additional full-time equivalent positions. This additional employment was likely to largely be the result of transferred gaming and non-gaming expenditure, so it was found that there would likely be only a small net increase to employment in the City of Maroondah.
Gaming expenditure not associated with problem gambling was given marginal weight.
- The level of additional gross gaming expenditure was considered uncertain as estimates did not take into account 2015–16 expenditure. The commission assessed the extent of the economic benefit as marginal on the basis that the majority of any new expenditure would be transferred expenditure, a portion of which would not be associated with problem gambling.
Complementary expenditure was given marginal weight.
- Evidence that there would be net complementary expenditure was limited and a substantial proportion of this would be transferred expenditure from other venues, some of which would be outside of Maroondah. Evidence was also led that the venue would lose between 5 and 10 per cent of revenue annually in its gaming and non-gaming activities, making the complementary expenditure as a result of the grant of the application limited.
Increased community contributions was given marginal weight.
- A relatively small amount of additional community contribution was offered. However, the committee process for distribution of funds did allow for local community input.
Increased gaming competition in the municipal district was given marginal weight.
- As Maroondah is a highly competitive gaming market with a range of venue options, it was unclear that enhancing the applicant’s competitiveness would have a substantial impact on the local gaming market.
Possibility of increased incidence and impact of problem gambling was given low weight.
- The venue was not considered vulnerable to increased risks of problem gambling given the significant level of pokie availability within Maroondah and the existing number of pokies (80) at the venue.
In making its determination, the commission also weighed the following social impact benefits and disbenefits.
Improved facilities enabling greater range of services was given low weight.
- The major renovation would provide a better range of services, such as an expanded bistro, better separation of the gaming area and disabled lift access to the first floor.
Increased community contributions was given no weight.
- No evidence showed that the positive activities that would be supported by the application were of additional benefit to the local community.
Increased gaming opportunities for those who enjoy gaming was given no weight.
- The existing high number of pokies at the venue, and within the Maroondah area, means that granting the application would have marginal impact on gaming patrons.
Possibility of increased incidence and impact of problem gambling on the community was given low weight.
- The risks were considered low on the basis that: existing accessibility within the area and venue was high, machine utilisation at the venue was quite low and given the approach to problem gambling and responsible service of gambling at the venue.
Community attitude was given marginal weight.
- The commission noted objections from the City of Maroondah, the City of Whitehorse (a surrounding municipal district) and community organisations, however these were given marginal weight as no community survey was undertaken regarding the application.
See our infographic on the City of Maroondah and compare its pokies statistics with other councils across Victoria.