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Commission grants application for additional 20 pokies at The Meeting Place

On 28 and 29 November 2016, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation heard an application from Doxa Social Club Inc to increase the number of pokies at The Meeting Place in the City of Melbourne from 56 to 76.

The City of Melbourne 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 bistro and function room would be created on the first floor of the venue, as well as a lounge for non-gambling patrons on the ground floor. This would be a significant change from the current situation where the sole focus is gambling and there is no part of the venue where patrons are not exposed to the gambling products (pokies, TAB, Keno) on offer.

On 30 December 2016, the commission granted the application.

The commission found there would be a small net positive social and economic impact on the wellbeing of the Melbourne community if the application was approved, and hence the 'no net detriment' test was met.

The commission's approval is subject to the following conditions:

  • works required to create the first floor bistro and function room and to improve the layout and design of the ground floor must be completed before the additional 20 pokies can be installed
  • a Chaplaincy Program will be established, which will require a chaplain or suitably qualified counsellor to be available at the premises for at least five hours a week
  • a cash contribution of $100,000 each year will be made to organisations that have a purpose of assisting homeless persons in the City of Melbourne
  • a minimum of two staff members must be on duty in the gaming room at all times

Keno facilities will be removed from the premises.

In its determination, the commission noted that objections to the application had been made by adjoining councils (Moonee Valley, Port Phillip, Yarra, Stonnington) as well as Cohealth Ltd, Inner North West Primary Care Partnership, Women's Health West and the Council to Homeless Persons. However, while these objections and submissions raised valid concerns about the impact of problem gambling on the health and wellbeing of the community, none addressed the impact on the community from additional pokies at The Meeting Place, which is what the commission must consider.

In making this determination, the commission weighed the following economic impact benefits and disbenefits.


Gaming expenditure not associated with problem gambling was given marginal weight.Community contributions was given marginal weight.Employment creation was given marginal weight.Capital works was given no weight.

  • The amount of new expenditure is not estimated to be high. Although the layout and design of the venue currently poses risks in relation to problem gambling, the conditions of approval will require changes to reduce these risks.
  • The proposed new community contribution of $100,000 each year for the homeless in the City of Melbourne is regarded as a relatively small amount by the commission.
  • Three full-time equivalent position will be created. Two of these positions will be created in a new cafe to be opened at the venue, while the other will result from having two people employed in active supervision of the gaming room.
  • Although $960,000 in capital works is proposed, the amount is considered modest and there is uncertainty whether any economic benefits will accrue to the City of Melbourne community.


The possibility of increased incidence and impact of problem gambling was given low weight.

  • A portion of new expenditure may be sourced from problem gambling. However, improvements to the layout and design of the venue will reduce the risk of harm associated with problem gambling. The introduction of the chaplaincy program and increase in staff actively monitoring the gaming room will also reduce the risk.

In making this determination, the commission weighed the following social impact benefits and disbenefits.


Increased gaming opportunities for those who enjoy gaming was given no weight.Increased community contributions, via donations to services for the homeless, was given moderate weight.Increased community contributions, via the chaplaincy service, was given low weight.

  • Although additional pokies may provide greater choice, there is currently low usage rates of pokies at the venue.
  • While the amount of money to be contributed is considered modest in relation to the increase in gaming expenditure, the contribution may have a significant impact on people who are homeless.
  • The chaplaincy service will be directed towards reducing the risk of harms associated with problem gambling, as well as assisting patrons with non-gambling related problems. This service is an additional benefit.


The possibility of increased incidence and impact of problem gambling on the community was given low weight.

  • While a portion of total gaming expenditure will be associated with problem gambling, the improvements to the layout and design of the venue, together with the introduction of the chaplaincy service, will reduce the risk of these harms.

More information

See our infographic on the City of Melbourne and compare its pokies statistics with other councils across Victoria.

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