Monday 19. September, 2016

VCAT Overrules Frankston Council to Allow More Pokies

The Langwarrin Hotel in Victoria is now cleared to install an additional ten poker machines at its Cranbourne-Frankston Rd premises after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) overruled Frankston Council’s refusal to issue a planning permit.

The hotel linked its bid to increase the number of pokies in the venue from 52 to 62 to planned upgrades to its children’s play area. Peter Baretta, the hotel’s general manager wrote in an application submitted to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) that the children’s play area upgrade would be contingent on receiving the pokies approval.

The VCGLR approved the pokies application, stating that a weatherproof play area was a “social benefit” for the community; however Frankston Council then refused to issue a planning permit, making the approval unusable.

On August 24, VCAT ruled against the council, agreeing with the VCGLR that the benefits of the weatherproof playground outweigh the concerns of problem gambling. In addition, the ruling stated that “there is a high level of demand” for the 52 machines and the additional machines “would ease this pressure.”

The council pushed VCAT to insist that the $700,000 of work on the playground be completed within two years, instead of the four years Baretta wanted. VCAT compromised on a deadline of three years.

Frankston Council was disappointed with the ruling, saying that there has not been “any satisfactory evidence on the social impact supplied by the proponent.”

“The compromise of a three-year deadline for the hotel upgrades is a very small concession to council’s concerns; however the VCAT decision overall is disappointing,” stated Dennis Hovenden, chief executive of the council.

“We are concerned about the message this sends to local families and the long-lasting impact that gaming has on one of the most vulnerable communities in Victoria.”

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