Despite the fact that there has been much research into the addictive and destructive nature of gambling, there has been a landmark victory for Melbourne pub the Pink Hill Hotel. They have been given the go ahead to build a children’s play area which will give children full view of the pokies and their parents in action.

Child-free pokies advocate Paul Bendat said “it’s a disgrace. It basically normalises gambling. Little kids say, ‘Look at all the grandmas and grandpas playing all the pokies in the room’.”

Anti-gambling groups are up in arms, warning that creating the playroom will only encourage and endorse problem gambling; allowing parents to utilise the children’s area as a child minding service while they play the pokies.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR) has granted the Beaconsfield pub permission to build a children’s playroom to “be fully enclosed with soundproof glass so that children are visible to parents from the gaming room or bistro”. In effect this is putting a crèche in the middle of an adult’s entertainment area.

The VCGR has since withdrawn permission for the playroom to be fitted out with “soundproof glass so that the children are visible to parents” however they are still allowing the child minding facility to remain in the middle of the gaming area. They seem to have completely missed the point; that children will still be exposed to gambling and it will, in effect, provide childcare facilities while parents play the pokies.

VCGR executive commissioner Peter Cohen said “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.”

The local community have also come together to fight the VCAT on this issue to get the planning permission overturned. A hearing into the matter will be held in November.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha
Source: Sun Herald