MOORABOOL has a growing problem with gaming machines and the numbers back it up, according to a local counsellor.
Calling on the council to create a responsible gambling policy, Relationships Australia Victoria's Pat Hamilton said the fact Moorabool residents pumped $23,000 a day through the pokies last financial year was proof enough that it was a serious issue.
"That's a lot of money they aren't spending elsewhere in the community," Ms Hamilton said. "The average spend per year is high [$389 per person in Moorabool]. But only a small proportion of residents actually use the pokies, so what's the real figure per person? What
else do people spend that amount of money on in a year?"
She disagreed with East Moorabool ward's Cr Michael Tudball, who last week said Moorabool did not have a major pokies problem despite losing $8.5million on 110 machines last financial year.
However, Ms Hamilton backed Cr
Tudball's stance that local gaming machine venues were not reinvesting enough revenue. She called for a more even spread across the community.
Two Moorabool gaming venues raked in $4.2million revenue in 2010-11, with Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation figures revealing $1.3million was spent on operating costs and $50,936 on donations, gifts and sponsorship.
While 55per cent of net revenue was spent for "community purposes", $758,298 was awarded to sporting activities for club members, $108,992 on goods and services subsidies, and $84,122 for "financing costs".
It was a large jump from 17.1per cent five years ago, when $3499 was spent on gifts and sponsorship.
State government legislation requires clubs to spend at least 8.33per cent of their gaming revenue on "community benefits". A representative of Bacchus Marsh Golf Club was unavailable for comment, while the Court House Hotel, Stoneys Club and the Australian Hotels Association chose not to comment.
Ms Hamilton said a responsible gambling policy would guide council decision making.
But mayor Pat Griffin said the idea of such a policy had never been raised during his time on council. "We have a small number of poker machines in Moorabool. We've had no permit applications for a long time," he said. "There are people in the area who have problems with pokies, but it's not a huge social issue here. In the future we may need a policy, but not now."