A HEALESVILLE hotel has got the go-ahead to install an extra 30 poker machines in its gaming area — despite admissions the community is vulnerable to gambling.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation report stated that housing and income stress, a strong indigenous community and the devastation of the 2009 bushfires were "all warning signs of a community that is vulnerable to the effects of problem gambling" in Healesville.
However, the commission decided the Terminus hotel passed the "no net detriment test", and the social and economic impacts of the 30 extra machines were considered "neutral" and "positive" respectively.
Yarra Ranges Council had strongly opposed the application, and felt it would not benefit the community.
Cr Jeanette McRae said a local survey about the extra machines yielded more than 1000 responses, of which "only two or three agreed it was a good idea". The commission dismissed the club's self-promotion as a social club, and said there was nowhere to sit, besides the bistro, where patrons weren't exposed to pokies.
Gamblers Help Eastern community educator Diane Jenkins said this constant "pull" was dangerous for problem gamblers.
"For people who are experiencing a gambling addiction, it's very difficult to enjoy a social drink with nearby machines or areas to gamble," she said. "This is especially hard when there aren't many other local places to go, which is the case in the outer east."
Ms Jenkins said users of their service had specifically asked where venues without poker machines were so they could enjoy themselves.
The commission said while the Terminus hotel's current responsible gaming procedures weren't up to scratch, extra machines would not have a negative impact on the area "provided certain conditions are met".
These conditions state that the hotel's director must complete a responsible service of gaming course and provide a management plan.