Letter bid on pokies

Jane Emerick
BOROUGH of Queenscliffe is making a last-ditch appeal to State Government to cut back on poker machines in the tiny municipality.
Mayor Pat Semmens has written to Gaming Minister Daniel And-rews asking the Government for a special pokies cap in the borough.
Mr Andrews embraced a Victorian Commission of Gambling Regulation announcement in December that will remove poker machines from some regional venues by the end of 2007.
Queenscliff has 50 machines split between the town’s bowling club, which has 30, and Esplanade Hotel, 20.
“Our feeling is that 50 is too many for such a small borough,” Cr Semmens said.
“But we’re not confident at all they’ll be removed.”
The borough has the highest ratio of machines per capita in all Victorian local government areas.
However, the borough has been lumped under the same cap as City of Greater Geelong, which has been promised a Government freeze on pokies at existing levels.
Local Government regions, including a combination of City of Greater Geelong and Borough of Queenscliffe, have been capped at 10 poker machines per 1000 adults.
The borough has a population, including children, of around 3500.
Cr Semmens said combining the borough with Geelong had “obscured” the borough’s real pokies-to-adults ratio.
“We’re concerned with the social impact of having so many gaming machines on our population and whether or not it also increases the possibility of temptation in gambling,” she said.
About 30 per cent of Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale’s population is aged over 60, mostly retired and on fixed incomes.
The borough had previously refused an application from the Esplanade Hotel for poker machines.
But Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal dismissed the borough’s application and gave the Queenscliff venue the right to operate 20 machines.
“It’s basically as the result of the VCAT decision that we have ended up with so many gaming machines in the borough,” Cr Semmens said.
Ocean Grove councillor Jan Farrell has publicly fought a battle to rid the town of gaming machines after its bowling club was also granted pokies last year.

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