Wangaratta RSL’s big win: gambling commission approves 18 new pokie machines

DECISION WELCOMED: Wangaratta RSL branch senior vice president Andrew Kay and president Lieutenant General Ash Power.
DECISION WELCOMED: Wangaratta RSL branch senior vice president Andrew Kay and president Lieutenant General Ash Power.

An extra 18 pokie machines have been approved for Wangaratta RSL’s new building, after fears they would lead to an increase in problem gambling and domestic violence were dismissed as “low risk”.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation finding ruled the RSL sub-branch could increase its number of machines from 32 to 50.

It was estimated the machines would provide an extra $87,163 in profits per year, but the VCGLR set a condition $25,000 be donated to community groups dealing with problem gambling and domestic violence.

Objections from Wangaratta Council, community members and one of the RSL’s pokies’ competitors – the Wangaratta Club – were all rejected.

The council had raised fears more pokies would lead to bigger problems with gambling addictions, and therefore more instances of domestic violence.

While the VCGLR acknowledged there was a link between gambling and violence, it found there was no evidence to show how the 18 machines would increase the problem in Wangaratta.

“The commission is satisfied that the potential for an increase in problem gambling as a result of this application is low,” the report stated.

“The general community attitude towards this application has been mixed.”

Wangaratta RSL senior vice president Andrew Kay welcomed the decision, saying additional pokies would allow the branch to build its bistro and events location.

“It will assist us in being able to operate as an RSL and assist our members,” he said.

“We all have our responsibilities in terms of gambling support.”

Mr Kay said the branch was committed to the condition to invest money in gambling and violence programs.

The RSL’s old Sydney Hotel redevelopment has been on public display at Wangaratta Council and will be considered by councillors at a future meeting.

Mr Kay said he was hopeful the building and pokies could be open next year for the branch’s centenary.