Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Opposition to pokies at Euroa

Plan to install poker machines at Euroa Hotel draws plenty of people to last night's No Pokies for Euroa meeting.

JARROD WHITTAKER March 18, 2014 4:55am

No Pokies for Euroa committee member Alistair Thomson and chairman Frank Pierce.

A public information session in Euroa last night organised by opponents of introducing poker machines into the town was so well-attended some people were unable to enter the venue.

Extra chairs were deployed and some were forced to stand after more than 160 attended the information night the No Pokies for Euroa group organised at the town’s Wesley Hall.

The group is attempting to overturn Strathbogie Shire Council’s decision to introduce 30 poker machines at the Euroa Hotel in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

No Pokies for Euroa member Mal Alston said the poker machines would take $2.5 million from Euroa’s economy in the next year.

‘‘I’ve been a doctor in the community for 30 years and I’ve seen the impact of gambling,’’ Dr Alston said.

‘‘We know the population we have here are the people who are most vulnerable to poker machines. The people who are most vulnerable tend to be elderly, they tend to be pensioners ... and they tend to be people on unemployment benefits.’’

He told the meeting poker machines were designed to win for one group of people — ‘‘that’s the owners and the state government’’, he said to applause.

Letters of support from Tasmanian independent MP and anti-pokies campaigner Andrew Wilkie and World Vision’s Reverend Tim Costello were also read out.

During the meeting pokies researcher Professor John McDonald told the meeting problem gambling had wide-ranging impacts, with each problem gambler affecting a further six to seven people.

‘‘There is very strong evidence accumulated now across the world that gambling has adverse health, social, psychological and financial impacts on many more people than those we would categorise as problem gamblers,’’ Prof McDonald said.

In November last year Euroa Hotel won approval to install gaming machines to fund the $1.5million upgrade of the historic hotel.

At the time, Shire of Strathbogie Mayor Deb Swan said the decision to approve had been a difficult one for the council.

The redevelopment will include a range of improvements, including a new kitchen and coolrooms, bistro and beer garden redevelopment and car park upgrade.

A second stage of the development would involve the renovation of existing accommodation facilities.

It will also result in the creation of a ‘‘Euroa Hotel Community Chest’’ with council, to contribute to the community.

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