Rate slug on pokies to help gamblers

POKER machine venues in Melbourne's north-eastern suburbs will have their council rates doubled to help fund problem gambling programs under a plan to be voted on by Manningham City Council this month.

POKER machine venues in Melbourne's north-eastern suburbs will have their council rates doubled to help fund problem gambling programs under a plan to be voted on by Manningham City Council this month.

Cr Stephen Mayne said the plan would affect the rates of five out of eight pokies venues in Doncaster, Templestowe and Bulleen.

Moreland City Council introduced double rates for 11 pokies venues in 2010, with the money funding programs and schemes to help problem gamblers.

The Manningham proposal is expected to add $112,000 a year to the council's budget.

In the first year the money will fund a comprehensive study of gambling in the municipality. After that it would be used to help problem gamblers.

There are 617 poker machines in the municipality and since July last year $33.7 million has been pumped into them.

Cr Mayne said four of the venues were owned by the Woolworths-Bruce Mathieson group: the Shoppingtown Hotel, Doncaster Inn, Cherry Hill Tavern, and Manningham Club. The independent Templestowe Hotel will also pay double rates.

Two venues are exempt because they are on public recreation land and rates cannot be raised, while an eighth venue, Club Warrandyte, is getting out of the pokies business in August.

Mr Mayne said residents lost $65 million playing the pokies last year but the council received only $130,000 in rates from those venues.

Moreland mayor John Kavanagh said the system had discouraged new venues.

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