Staff call to fight extra pokies rebuffed

A CHANCE to have a say on the number of poker machines in the region has been missed by Shoalhaven City Council.After council argued strongly about social impacts while considering a request to build a Dan Murphy’s liquor outlet in East Nowra, it was asked to comment on an application by the Ulladulla Ex-Services Club to install 20 extra poker machines.Staff recommended council oppose the application and argue against any net increase in the number of gaming machines in the Shoalhaven.“This would be a responsible position to take in view of the evidence of potential harm to individuals and the negative social impacts through gaming,” the staff report said.“The addition of additional electronic gaming machines in the Ulladulla area has the potential to further negatively affect incomes of those from a low income area.“Already $4.4 million is removed from available funds from those using the current machines (and the local economy) at this one venue.“An increase in the number of machines has the potential to increase this amount as well as impacting on the number of problem gamblers in the area,” the report stated.“There’s a fair bit of evidence to say gaming machines have an impact on some segments of the community,” council general manager Russ Pigg said during last week’s council meeting.Cr Amanda Findley called for council to oppose the extra machines. “Twenty machines might not sound like much but they have the potential to pull another million dollars from the community,” she said.“For a small community who already put $12 million a year through the slots there has to be a point where enough is enough.”Club representatives had claimed disallowing the extra machines would put 100 jobs at risk, according to Cr Greg Watson.He said council had already approved an extension to the club as part of a $5 million investment in the facility and needed to continue its support.A decision on poker machines was “nothing to do with us”, Cr Watson said.“It’s not up to us to decide whether you have gaming machines in this city,”he added.Club representatives had asked to address council on the issue, according to Cr Andrew Guile, and “We should allow them the privilege to do that,” he said.Cr Findley said that meeting could rob council of a chance to have a say within the deadline for comments.“I don’t mind hearing from the club but it has to be within the time limit for submissions and the counter argument on social impact also needs to be heard so that councillors can make an informed decision,” Cr Findley said.Her request to ensure the meeting with club representatives took place within a timeframe that allowed council to consider the issues and make comment gained no support.Council instead deferred any decision until after the meeting.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.