Dubbo council objects to South Dubbo Tavern's plan for more poker machines

NO: Dubbo councillor Stephen Lawrence says more poker machines at South Dubbo Tavern would have a negative impact on the community. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING

NO: Dubbo councillor Stephen Lawrence says more poker machines at South Dubbo Tavern would have a negative impact on the community. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING

Dubbo Regional Council is pushing to have an application from South Dubbo Tavern to have more poker machines rejected.

The South Dubbo Tavern wants to have its maximum number of poker machines increased from 21 to 23. While the final decision will be made by Liquor and Gaming NSW, council will submit a statement against the increase.

At the Infrastructure, Community and Recreation Committee on Monday night, councillors voted to object because an increase in gaming machines would have a negative impact on the socially disadvantaged in the community.

Councillor Stephen Lawrence, chair of the committee, said while it was a modest increase to go from 21 to 32 poker machines, the broader impact needed to be considered.

“It is well known these machines are used across the community, I’ve used them myself on numerous occasions, but they are used also by people who have problems with addiction and people with problems in terms of criminal offending as well. They have a disproportionate impact on these people and a disproportionate impact on the poor,” Cr Lawrence said.

“This is a direct transfer of money in most case from the most socially disadvantaged groups in the community to very rich people in the community, and it’s socially damaging.”

Figures from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority show in 2017 the Dubbo Local Government Area had the highest rate of gambling across western NSW.

Total turnover through machines was $400 million for the 12 months. Of that, 10 per cent of the profit went to operators and government tax.

In the Tavern’s application on the increase to Liquor and Gaming NSW, the organisation outlined the positive impact the machines would have.

“The hotel is to make a donation by way of sponsorship of $20,000 to the Dubbo Macquarie Raiders Rugby League Football Club and this demonstrates the increase in the gaming machine threshold is a positive contribution to the community,” it said.

“The donated funds will be used to purchase team uniforms and equipment, ground upkeep and for the payment of registration fees for underprivileged families and their children in the community.”