Brimbank Council chases gaming industry cash for $58m leisure centre

Brimbank Council has attracted controversy after a proposal to accept funding from the gaming industry to help pay for a new $58 million leisure centre.

Brimbank, which already leads Victoria in pokies loss averages per resident, could place itself in further compromise to the industry, critics say.

After the council has struggled to win state and federal funding for its proposed Health and Wellbeing Hub, a partnership with pokies operators was proposed at March meeting between councillors.

The timing is convenient for gaming industry, which could request new extended leases at a time when Brimbank was supposed to be drafting a new, tougher gambling policy that would include more expensive rent and bigger taxes.

More than $140 million was lost to pokies machines in Brimbank throughout 2017-2018.

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The news follows reports from a campaign from Woolworths to win support among local councils for gaming venues ahead of coming Victorian council elections.

Community Clubs Victoria president, Leon Wiegard, said that his goal was to change perception about the industry at the grass roots level.

“We’ll be running an education program to see if we can get ourselves better understood with some councils … while at the same time we’ll hopefully convince a lot of people to vote for people who are going to support clubs,” he told The Age.

“There is too much misinformation out there about clubs and how we do things.”

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