The council from Euro had recently approved the introduction of poker machines into the quaint Victorian town. However, this decision did not go down well with the residents of Euroa who were clearly unhappy and decided to come together in a show of support to have the council overturn the decision.
There were a number of big names who gathered together to oppose the introduction of these poker machines. Some of them include Tim Costello, World Vision Chief, Andrew Wilkie, Federal MP and a senior member from the Salvation Army.
Euroa has a population of just over 3000 members and they prefer to keep things quiet. However, the council is looking to improve things and bring in more financial revenue. The council approved the introduction of poker machines as the Euroa Hotel is being developed for $1.5 million and will host over 30 poker machines.
There are a number of reasons why Euroa is opposed to poker machines. Mal Altson a local GP and a member of the No Pokies for Euroa group said
I’ve been a doctor in the community for 30 years and I’ve seen the impact of gambling,. We know the population we have here are the people who are most vulnerable to poker machines. The people who are most vulnerable tend to be elderly, they tend to be pensioners … and they tend to be people on unemployment benefits.
Some of the residents took to social media to voice their opinion. They wanted the pubs and bars in Euroa to be a place where residents could gather together, share a drink, listen to live music and have a good conversation. They believe the introduction of these poker machines will increase an anti-social attitude and will do no good for the community.
Alistair Thomson, also part of the No Pokies for Euroa group said
We know that the research shows that one in six regular pokie players become problem gamblers, losing an average of $21,000 a year. That’s half of the average annual household income in Euroa. The council will have to deal with an increase in counselling and income support that this will bring
The Victorian civil and administrative tribunal will hear both points of views and then make a decision during the 1st week of April. Debra Swan, the mayor of Strathbogie shire defended the council’s decision and said
It’s not in our bucket any more, it’s in [the Victorian civil and administrative tribunal’s] bucket. We followed a very clear planning process prior to a decision by the council. It’s a shame that people are now saying we should have done something differently when they had the opportunity to do so previously and not many people did that