A bid by Altona RSL to take in 22 gaming machines from the defunct Williamstown RSL Club has been refused by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
The Altona sub-branch had applied to increase the number of its electronic gaming machines (EGMs) from 58 to 80. Hobsons Bay council opposed the application.
There are nine pokies venues in Hobsons Bay with a total of 535 machines, nearly half (239) of those being in the Altona-Seaholme neighbourhood.
In their written reasons for the decision, commissioner Dina McMillan and deputy chair Helen Versey said the application could lead to an increase in problem gambling and therefore failed the “no net detriment test”.
“The commission is required to be satisfied that if the application is granted, the net economic and social impact of approval will not be detrimental to the wellbeing of the community of the municipal district in which the Altona RSL is located,” their report stated.
They said the estimated revenue from 22 new machines at the club would be $3.45 million in the first year – almost double last financial year’s revenue.
The commission found that transforming the venue from medium size to a large venue would increase the risk of problem gambling.
“Wherever accessibility to EGMs is increased, there is always a risk of an increase in problem gambling, which leads to other costs such as adverse health outcomes, relationship breakdowns, emotional harms and other social costs,” the report stated.
“The commission also accepts that to the extent that approval of this application would result in an increase to gambling-related crime and other social disturbances, including family violence, it would constitute a social disbenefit.”
Altona RSL general manager David Hanson declined to comment on the decision.