Brimbank council says its position on electronic gaming machines remains clear, despite reports the council could seek gaming industry funding to help build the $58 million St Albans Leisure Centre.
Brimbank suffers the biggest gaming losses in Victoria, with almost $140 million lost in 2017-2018.
The council has repeatedly highlighted the suffering caused by gaming machines and in October last year called for the community to sign the petition Pokies play Brimbank.
However after struggling to find funding for the much-talked about leisure centre, the council is now considering looking to the gambling industry.
A report in The Age said a possible partnership with pokies operators was raised at a private gathering of councillors last month.
The report stated that some present at the meeting say they are concerned such a partnership could give the pokies industry leverage over council policy.
But they would not comment publicly, citing the council’s strict media code.
In a statement last week, Brimbank mayor Lucinda Congreve said the council’s position on electronic gaming machines was unchanged.
“As the municipality that consistently experiences the highest EGM losses in Victoria, Brimbank council has been vocal and steadfast in our calls for gambling industry reform,” she said.
“Brimbank continues to advocate for reform of the industry and the introduction of harm minimisation measures.”
Cr Congreve said the council operated within financial constraints and was looking at a variety of options for funding.
“Councillors recently discussed (during an informal meeting between councillors) potential opportunities to explore private sector investment in the much-needed St Albans Health and Wellbeing Hub.
“This was a robust and broad discussion, exploring a number of options – including whether it would be appropriate for council to seek funds from agencies or companies that we do business with or even to try and claw back directly some of the gambling losses experienced by our community.”
Cr Congreve said a number of organisations were floated as potential investors, including Community Clubs Victoria, a pokies lobby group.
The Star Weekly news team this story and other news from across the west.