The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation rejected a proposal for more pokies for White Eagle House. The Polish Community Association in Geelong applies for more poker maachines with Victorian officials in January.
White Eagle House in Breakwater planned to increase its poker machines from 35 to 78. The plans divided the city of Breakwater, due to concerns about excessive gambling.
The City of Greater Geelong opposed the move enough that it spent $30k to appear at a hearing. Greater Geelong brought attorneys and an expert witness to the pokies hearing.
Members of the city council said they opposed the pokies plan because White Eagle House is in a disadvantaged part of the city. Due to it location, officials felt more pokies could cause harm to the city.
White Eagle House Pokies Application
Also, the neighborhood the casino is in has the highest pokies density in the city. Government data showed that punters lost a total of $1.69 million at White Eagle House last year. That total comes to $48,391 per poker machine.
This month’s decision was a reversal for White Eagle House. Back in December, the VCGLR voted to approve 30 additional pokies for the casino. Geelong committed lawyers to the case, but did not send an expert witness.
Independent Expert Defeated Pokies Request
Councillor Sarah Mansfield told Geelong Indy the independent expert was key. Mansfield said the Geelong’s experts looked at previous cases to make the decision, because, “If we analyse recent decisions at the VCGLR, the best chance we have of success is to have legal representation and an independent expert to present the strongest case possible.”
The councillor admitted that the Polish Community Association does “good work”, but felt she could not support their push for more pokies.
Why White Eagle House Needs More Pokies
For its part, the White Eagle House said it needed the extra pokies to stay in business. The casino said Victoria would not have to approve more pokies license, because existing licenses would be transferred from the Geelong Football Club.
The Polish Association said the Breakwater Eagles Soccer Club facilities needed extra pokies revenues if repairs are to happen. In its application, the White Eagle House said, “The buildings at Fellmongers Rd are deteriorating and sorely in need of expensive upgrading and refurbishment.”
The filing continued, “If these works are delayed much longer, the disrepair of the building, plant and equipment will be beyond the means of the club to redress.”
Geelong’s Pokies Revenues per Day
Geelong is 10% under its allotment of pokies licenses. In all, 25 different poker machine venues share a total of 1,275 pokies licenses, but that remains below the limit.
Officials said a key thought was the amount of money spent each day by Geelong punters. The VCGLR said the bettors of Geelong spend $117 million dollars last year on gambling. The total comes to $322,000 a day spent on pokies gaming alone.