OSCAR’S Hotel has applied for 30 poker machines.
If approved, they will take Ballarat to 646 electronic gaming machines, just 17 short of its 663 cap.
However, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal also recently overturned a Ballarat City Council decision to reject nine Red Lion Hotel EGMs, which will bring Ballarat’s total machines to 655 if the Oscar’s application gets the go-ahead.
They also said the Doveton Street South venue provides other non-gaming entertainment and recreational activities, such as a restaurant, bar and courtyard and accommodation, with gaming forming “a modest component of the overall hotel use”.
“The venue’s location, proximate to but removed from the retail core of the CBD, is consistent with the policy intent of making gaming accessible but not conveniently accessible,” the application on behalf of Oscar’s said.
The machines would be located in the Oscar’s Hotel Long Room and would only be accessible via the dining area, not the street.
But Relationships Australia centre manager Ballarat Sue Yorston said it was a difficult situation for Ballarat to be in.
“Poker machines shouldn’t be in residential areas but we also don’t want them all in the CBD,” Ms Yorston said.
“It’s easy to walk in Ballarat from one venue to the other. Some of them are within a block of each other which is a contradiction to the guidelines.
“We know having them close together exacerbates problem gambling because they have access to more venues.”
Ms Yorston said problem gambling was often “secretive and shameful” but addicts could spread themselves over four or five different venues to make themselves less noticeable.
“We don’t need 30 more machines in Ballarat. It’s not a positive for the community.
“It’s a difficult situation for the council because they have no real say in it. But gambling addiction can affect people in any walk of life.”
For help with problem gambling, contact Relationships Australia Ballarat on 5337 9222 , the Gambling Help Line on 1800 243 696 or Child and Family Services Ballarat on 5337 3333 for financial counselling.