Two hotels within Whittlesea Shire have topped the state and maintained their number one and two expenditure rankings for poker machines with $10.99 million spent on gaming at the Epping Plaza Hotel and $9.82 million at Mill Park’s Plough Hotel with 75 per cent of gamblers living locally.
According to data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) the Bundoora Hotel ($8.97 million) and Excelsior Hotel in Thomastown ($8.68 million) were also high on the VCGLR list.
Shire Mayor Kris Pavlidis told Whittlesea Leader reporter Paul Shapiro that poker machines were a “scourge” on the community.
“It’s out of control, the effect it has on families and individuals is huge and can’t be ignored,” Pavlidis told Shapiro.
This comes at a time when the Whittlesea Bowls Club has applied for a planning permit to extend the premises and ‘may introduce’ even more poker machines whilst the Shire is currently taking Supreme Court action to stop Woolworths installing 40 poker machines at South Morang’s ALH Group owned Commercial Hotel.
It was revealed today by a whistleblower who contacted federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie that ALH venues are keeping databases on customers lives.
“You know the ins and outs of their life. You’re writing down what they do … the teams they barrack for,” one whistleblower told Wilkie’s staff.
“It used to be an unwritten thing … talk to patrons in a genuine sense … now those genuine interactions aren’t what they used to be.
“We’re actually writing it down so that we can get people to stay for as long as possible, to put as much money into the machines as possible,” a whistleblower told Wilkie.
“When playing a game like Black Rhinos, to have a 50 per cent chance of getting five rhinos, playing one line at a time, it would take 6.7 million button presses and cost nearly $330,000,” states the VCGLR website.
“Woolworths spies on its poker machine customers without their knowledge, keeps a secret database of personal information, and uses that information to encourage increased gambling,” Wilkie told Federal Parliament this morning.
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