CRAIG’S Hotel owner John Finning yesterday said his business would struggle if a gaming venue rate was adopted by Ballarat City Council.
Mr Finning said he already had to pay twice as much in rates for Craig’s compared to his other large hotel in suburban Melbourne.
The council announced last Friday it was considering adopting a special gaming venue rate 16 per cent higher than the current commercial rate in its 2012-13 budget.
It would hit Ballarat’s 15 gaming venues and raise about $70,000 annually for problem gambling harm minimisation programs.
But Mr Finning said it would not be a smart decision in the current financial climate.
“It will limit my ability to operate and I don’t agree with the philosophy behind it. Business has never been in a worse state,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s going to raise a huge amount for them (the council) but it’s going to really hurt at my end.
“I’ve never squealed about my rates before but this is just too much.”
Mr Finning said he would speak to the councillors about the proposed rate, particularly the lack of consultation.
“I had no knowledge of it. We had no opportunity to make a submission,” he said.
“Do they understand what the current relative rate burdens are? It’s just out of place.”
But Councillor Des Hudson, who has been leading the council’s push against problem gambling, said the rate was only in the draft budget and people could still have an input into it.
“The draft budget is the time where people who wish to can have a say before council adopts it,” Cr Hudson said.
He said, if given the go-ahead, the rate would help council provide problem gambling programs, instead of relying on grants.
“These (the grants) are not always guaranteed either. This will give us our own bucket of money to help fight problem gambling.
“We will continue to say that these are issues we need to address across the whole community.”