It has been 18 months in the making and it seems that no one is intending to back down at any point soon as the struggle for new pokies at Clayton’s L’Unico Hotel continues in full force. The hotel in question has been pushing for the approval of seven new pokies machines but so far the Monash Council has stood firmly against this proposal. Nevertheless, the campaign rages on.
Interestingly enough, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has defied the advice of the council and is currently locked in combat with them to approve the new machines. The matter is now being debated at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
However it does not seem as if a decision either way will be reached on this matter and with seven days of hearings behind it, the Tribunal has yet to come to a conclusion. The hotel’s plan to bring in some new pokies will not come cheap and forms part of a larger redevelopment of the venue, which amounts to a huge $3.3 million. The thinking behind this proposal is that additional machines will help cover these costs. Last week council representatives were locked in an argument with the hotel about just how necessary the redevelopment would be but it can only be put into action if the new pokies are approved beforehand.
The hotel explained to the hearing that its redevelopment would feature a new community space and that various parts of the venue would be refurbished and made more appealing for visitors. Gambling industry expert Leigh Barrett reasoned that the proposed increase of just seven machines from 28 to 35 was a relatively small one that would not prove particularly harmful, while consultant Colleen Peterson said that problem gamblers were already attracted to the venue in its current state. While the prospect of additional machines was not so appealing to her, she did at least appreciate that the redevelopment would provide other benefits to the community. Overall, the plans would have a net mutual outcome and so new pokies would be acceptable in that respect.
To L’Unico Hotel’s credit, it did offer a $30,000 donation to the community if its wish for new pokies won approval. The council first rejected the idea back in January last year but, following that, the VCGLR overturned its decision in May last year. The council has in fact approved the redevelopment plans for the hotel in their own right but the issue remains that it is entirely dependent on whether the additional pokies are permitted or not.