Supreme Court rules in favour of Merri-bek City Council’s bid to protect those most vulnerable (Media release)

Moreland City Council’s fight to protect Merri-bek’s most vulnerable citizens had a win last week when the Supreme Court ruled that VCAT had made an error in law in approving 10 additional gaming machines at a Merri-bek venue.

In 2016 Council voted to include criteria in the Moreland Planning Scheme to assess the impact of gambling in the community when considering applications from businesses and clubs seeking to increase the number of gaming machines at their venues.

In the same year Council received an application from the Glenroy RSL to expand the number of poker machines at the venue from 40 to 50. Merri-bek’s Urban Planning committee rejected the application because of deep concerns about the potential negative impact on the Glenroy community.

That decision was appealed by the Glenroy RSL to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which overturned Council’s decision and allowed the additional poker machines.

Moreland Mayor John Kavanagh said the Supreme Court ruling was heartening and Council would continue its work to lessen the damage caused by pokies in the community.

“We amended our Planning Scheme for cases exactly like this, to protect vulnerable areas of our community from these addictive and damaging machines,” said Cr Kavanagh.

“Since 1992, total losses from poker machines at Merri-bek’s venues has cost our community $1,845,000,000. That’s almost $2 billion in losses that many in our community just cannot afford.

“The Glenroy RSL does some fantastic work in our community, but Council must continue to stand its ground on the damaging impacts of pokies in our community,” said Cr Kavanagh.

An estimate provided by Glenroy RSL’s own gaming consultant showed that the 10 extra poker machines being applied for would result in an additional $1,019,670 in pokies revenue at the venue within the first 12 months.

The Glenroy RSL has 28 days to lodge an appeal to the Court of Appeal. The matter will now return to VCAT to be reheard before different T0ribunal members.

Moreland City Council is a founding member of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

If you or someone you know is affected by gambling, help is available. Visit Gambling Help Online or phone 1800 858 858. 24-hour free and confidential help is just a click or a call away.

Media release: 4 April 2018