sneaky bastards file – the pink hotel

Yesterday I wrote about the ALH’s decision to pull gambling-style kids games from all of their venues across the country; that includes almost 100 venues in Victoria alone. It made a nice change to be able to write something good about this lot, especially given the Woolworths connection and the bad publicity they’ve been getting in the press (and deservedly so).

But any lingering happy thoughts I might have had about this were shattered when I learned last night that the Pink Hill Hotel, a proposed development in Beaconsfield, is planning on building a soundproof room, essentially a glass cage, to serve as a kids play area… and that this cage would overlook the 60-machine gaming room.

Are these people insane?

Let’s make no bones about it; exposing children to gambling is not a good thing. And exposing them to poker machines in particular cannot be excused. That’s just one of the reasons why children are not allowed in gaming rooms… yet Robin Daley (who is the only person listed with the VCGR as being associated with the Pink Hotel) seems to believe it’s ok to let them watch their parents and grandparents gamble.

There are so many things wrong with this picture!

Let’s take a step back. Beaconsfield, a beautiful part of Victoria just a few kilometres from where I live, currently has no pokies, although neighbouring Pakenham has plenty. When the proposal for the Pink Hotel was made, it met with firm resistance from the community and the Cardinia council. In fact, the Council not only objected to the pokies, they also refused planning permission for the development.

Despite this, the case went to the VCGR, who only a few days ago approved the proposed Pink Hotel as a 60-machine gaming venue, despite the vocal opposition. This doesn’t surprise me at all… the VCGR would approve poker machines in church if they could.

Now the people of Beaconsfield are sweating on a VCAT hearing in November 2010 to reassess the planning permission. If VCAT gives them the green light, as they probably will, then it looks like the hotel will go ahead. So much for people power!

What interests me that back in May, the Pink Hotel bought 60 gaming machine entitlements at the state auction. This was two months before the VCGR approved their application. Cost them over $2 million. Sounds like someone knew they were going to be approved… that’s an awful lot of money to spend on a speculative venture!

Now, I believe this venture will go ahead. The total number of pokies in Cardinia is well below the designated cap for the shire, and Beaconsfield doesn’t currently have any machines at all. I’m afraid the residents are going to end up having to live with it, which is a shame. But what really pisses me off is this proposed kids play area, and the fact that the VCGR have also approved it.

What were they thinking? Let’s see… here are some quotes from VCGR executive commissioner Peter Cohen about the decision.

“I am not concerned about children seeing poker machines because I don’t think that’s as harmful as … children being unsupervised.”

“I’m a realist. People will gamble. If they are going to gamble, I would rather they have their children supervised.”

“If this playroom wasn’t there there are still rooms in every gaming venue where minors are allowed to be, so they will always have the opportunity to be somewhere.”

Cohen tried to justify his point by saying it was better that kids be left in a glass cage… sorry, a play area… than left in parked cars. The lesser of two evils, Mr Cohen? Think about this: if people want to gamble so badly that they’ll bring their kids and either lock them in their cars, or stick them in a soundproof glass room, then there’s something fundamentally wrong. As a parent and a reformed gambler, I can say unequivocally that our kids come first. They have to. They are the basis and the reason for everything we do. If you can’t make the appropriate arrangements to look after your children then you don’t go playing the pokies. How’s that for a concept?

But no. The VCGR seems to believe that everyone is entitled to play poker machines, and to hell with the consequences. And the Pink Hotel has already demonstrated, well before it’s even been built, that it cares far more about the dollars than its patrons and their families.

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