BALLARAT City Council had a bet each way on pokies last night, approving new electronic gaming machines for Craig’s Royal Hotel while rejecting an application for the Golf House Hotel.
The eight additional machines were approved for Craig’s just minutes after councillors voted against 10 new machines for the Golf House in Ballarat North.
Golf House owner Steve Bryant told the meeting the new machines would help make the business sustainable and support employment and a $1.6 million redevelopment.
But Mr Bryant later argued the approval from council wouldn’t necessarily see the machines installed.
He said the current 20 machines were not adequate for existing patronage and some people could not access pokies during busy periods such as Friday nights.
Mayor Cr John Burt and Cr Amy Johnson were alone in supporting the new machines.
Mr Bryant then watched on from the public gallery as seven councillors voted to approve the Craig’s Hotel application because it is consistent with Ballarat’s CBD-focused gaming policy.
Last financial year, Craig’s collected more than $4.8 million from its 37 electronic gaming machines.
Under the application approved last night, it will now have a license for 45 machines.
Cr Belinda Coates and Cr Samantha McIntosh opposed the application.
Cr Coates called for a division to record the vote’s outcome.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation found Ballarat residents and visitors spent more than $55.93 million on poker machines last financial year. Councillors noted that residents had higher than average access to gaming machines, with eight machines per 1000 people.