Pokies to be Removed from Byron’s Beach Hotel

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ECHONET Daily’s Paul Bibby brings us landmark news from Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel. The pub is set to become the first licensed venue in the Shire to get rid of its pokies in a bid to reduce problem gambling.

In a move that anti-gambling advocates hope will inspire other local venues, the incoming owners of the hotel have pledged to start shutting down its 15 machines from the moment they officially take over on February 26.

It comes as new figures show that people in the shire pour about $138 million into the pokies each year, losing about 10 cents from every dollar they drop into the slot.

Daniel Madhavan, the CEO of the Impact Investment Group (IIG), which is leading the syndicate of new owners, said it was clear poker machines were bad for individuals and bad for the community.

‘They’re designed to be addictive, and that’s exactly what they are,’ Mr Madhavan said.

‘We simply don’t see how poker machines in local communities can be reconciled with what we consider responsible.

‘So with the Van Haandel family, who run the Beach Hotel, sharing our vision, we can do our bit by closing the door to the gaming room once and for all.’

With 429 poker machines across 20 clubs and pubs, the Byron shire is not as pokie-drenched as some local government areas in NSW.

However, figures from the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) show that those who gamble on pokies in the shire still lost $12.8m last financial year on the one-armed bandits.

That equates to $34,794 per day.

Our per capita losses of $388 per person per year puts us roughly on par with the other shires in the northern rivers, except for Tweed, which is way higher thanks to its mega-clubs.

In neighbouring Ballina shire, for example, gamblers lost $28,144,860 ($541,247 a week) on pokies over the past year.


`echonetdaily

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