On 26 October 2016, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation heard an application from Warragul Sporting and Social Club Inc to increase the number of pokies at the Warragul Sporting & Social Club in the Shire of Baw Baw from 80 to 100.
The Baw Baw Shire Council advised it was extremely concerned with the impact gambling has on the community, but did not oppose the application or appear at the hearing.
On 21 November 2016, the commission granted the application.
The commission found there would be small net positive social and economic impact on the wellbeing of the Baw Baw community if the application was approved, and hence the 'no net detriment' test was met.
The commission's approval is subject to conditions that:
- redevelopment of hospitality facilities at the Longwarry Bowls Club will be substantially completed within three years
- installation of a roof over the bowling green at the Longwarry Bowls Club will be substantially completed within six years
- cash and in-kind contributions of at least $40,000 continue to be made each year to not-for-profit community groups and sporting organisations providing services and facilities to residents in the Shire of Baw Baw
- additional cash contributions of at least $25,000 each year are made, with community and council input into their distribution.
In making this determination, the commission weighed the following social impact benefits and disbenefits.
Community contributions of $25,000 was given a low weight.
- Existing community contributions of $40,000, along with an additional $25,000 to be distributed with council and community input with a focus on problem gambling reduction.
Improved facilities at the Longwarry Bowls Club was given low weight.
- Renovation of hospitality facilities and installation of a roof over the bowling green will increase amenity facilities in a small town. However, the benefits will not accrue until completion, which is some years away.
Possibility of increased incidence and impact of problem gambling was given moderate to low weight.
- The venue was considered vulnerable to increased risks of problem gambling, including possible patron anonymity, some socio-economic disadvantage in the area, renovations underway to reduce gaming area emphasis at entries and because of its location as a ‘convenience’ venue. However, protective factors lowering risk include: low per pokie expenditure, patron pokie familiarity, as well as good responsible service of gambling and staff/patron relationships.
In making its determination, the commission also weighed the following economic impact benefits and disbenefits.
Expenditure of capital works was given marginal weight.
- Renovations of $1.2 million, with emphasis on local contractors, which will have increased impact in a small town.
Employment creation was given marginal weight.
- Five full-time equivalent positions were promised as part of the application, however due to the expected high transfer rate and some delay in creating some of the positions, their economic benefit was reduced to marginal weight.
Gaming expenditure not associated with problem gambling was given marginal weight.
- The anticipated level of new expenditure is expected to be low.
Increased gaming competition in the municipal district and satisfaction of demand was given marginal to low weight.
- Availability of pokies will increase in an existing venue where utilisation rates are relatively high. Competition with other local venues and future population growth were also considered.
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: relatively low levels of total new expenditure is expected, renovations will reduce emphasis on the gaming area, and given the approach to problem gambling and responsible service of gambling at the venue.
See our infographic on the Shire of Baw Baw and compare its pokies statistics with other councils across Victoria.