Pokie bid at house

GAMING VENUE: The Polish Community Association's White Eagle House at Breakwater.

City Hall is “preparing a response” to plans for 43 extra pokies at White Eagle House after losing thousands of dollars fighting Geelong RSL over 30 additional machines.

The City has called for public comment to “assist with the process” of responding to the Polish Community Association’s proposed gaming expansion at Breakwater.

The association has lodged an application at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) to increase the venue’s pokies from 35 to 78 in three tranches.

“The first tranche of 15 pokies would be deployed upon approval,” City Hall said.

“The second allotment of 15 would be deployed after completion of new sports facilities, with the final 13 to follow an upgrade of the licensed hospitality facilities.”

Council’s electric gaming policy aimed to reduce the “negative impacts” of problem gambling on pokies, said City Hall’s community life acting director, Robyn Stevens.

“The policy also seeks to ensure that any decisions around gambling do not have a detrimental impact on our community,” Ms Stevens said.

“We’d encourage all community members and organisations to have their say on the Polish Community Association’s application.”

The application will go before a VCGLR hearing on 26 February.

The public could comment on the application at the websites of Geelong’s council and the VCGLR, City Hall said.

Last year council set aside up to $8000 for “external” lawyers to fight the RSL’s bid for extra pokies at its Belmont venue. Council also allocated in-house legal representation to the case.

But council lost is battle in December when the VCGLR granted conditional approval to the RSL application.

The following night councillors began considering spending over $50,000 to re-establish a Geelong Gambling Advisory Committee.

Gamblers lost more than $118 million on pokies in greater Geelong last financial year, according to City Hall.

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