BALLARAT’S Oscar’s Hotel will be home to 30 electronic poker machines if a planning application is approved by tonight’s council meeting.
The Doveton Street South venue applied for planning permission for the installation of the machines in July, with the City of Ballarat receiving three objections to the proposal. An existing function room in the south-eastern portion of the hotel will house the machines, with strict business hours enforced and no access to the gaming area from the street. A report prepared for Ballarat City councillors notes that the machines will be transferred from within the Ballarat area and will not increase the total number of gaming machines beyond the Victorian Government cap of 663. The application also includes associated building works for the hotel, including the relocation of a bar, reconfiguration of toilets and installation of security facilities.
Relationships Australia and University of Ballarat gambling researcher Professor John McDonald oppose the installation of the gaming machines, with more than $37.87 million spent on electronic gambling in Ballarat last year.
A consultation meeting on the proposal held earlier this month failed to reach a resolution and debate in the council chamber is expected to be lengthy.
“(Relationships Australia) are generally supportive of council’s preference for electronic gaming machines to be concentrated in the CBD; however, they are concerned that Oscar’s is in a very convenient location which provides easy accessibility for vulnerable people,” the council report says.
“They expect that serious consideration be given to the issue of problem gambling.”
The City of Ballarat Community Planning Unit also objected to the proposal, citing insufficient information and problems with the location.
If the permit is issued, gaming machines could be used between 9am and 1am.