Another Anti-Pokie Grassroots Group Pops Up in Whittlesea… and Claims they “Won”

It seems like everyone is going on an EPIC mode nowadays. All of this “madness” started with the grassroots group calling themselves Enough Pokies in Castlemaine—hence, the acronym EPIC; the peak of the latter’s activity was when the courts suddenly decided that they can be credible prosecutors in an appeal against the town’s pokie operators. While it may be some time before some of us can safely conclude as to how the hearings will swing, pokie aficionados like us should be keeping tabs on it because—for God’s sake, man!—the whole pokies industry is at stake here!
Anyways, because of this, countless communities have also decided to band themselves together to take out the evil and profit-driven pokie operator (because it does make sense for a business to not be concerned with profit, if we go by these anti-pokie groups’ logic). One of the more prominent examples is a group from Whittlesea who is also protesting the entry of pokies in their town.
Obviously inspired by the actions of EPIC—and, more likely, perhaps because of the urging of sudden ally Tim Costello (of World Vision Australia)—they have gone out and actually renamed themselves into a single unit: Pokies Out of Whittlesea...  which is “meant” to be shortened to POW, if someone else was wondering if there’s anything else to call them.

The real news here, on the other hand, is that whilst it can be rather hard to confirm it yet because of the lack of additional dailies running the story, POW allegedly claims that they have successfully pressured the Royal Mail Hotel in withdrawing its pokies application of thirty machines to the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), which was, in turn, also supposed to hear its corresponding appeal in October later of this year.

Joan Kincade, the self-designated spokeswoman for POW, said that “it is great news”, though she also has to remind herself and her fellow members to “remain vigilant”. She said, “We have to be mindful that the hotel made a similar application a few years ago and withdrew it, then renewed the application recently.”

If the story does prove to be indeed true, then that is really some fast breakthrough for POW; all they did was get themselves a catchy acronym, and they immediately pressured the pokie operators to yield to them.

Who’s to Believe? Queensland Attorney-General Denies Claims of Pokies Extension from Gaming Office

It was late last week when a local news outfit had reported that the Government was planning to enact changes to the pokie moratorium that was set in place back then by the administration of Kevin Michael Rudd, the sitting PM of the country during 2008. These guys are prospering courtesy of the Office of Liquor, Gaming, and Racing, they had said that more than one thousand pokie machines will be able to be installed in the state of Queensland before 2012 ends. However, Jarrod Bleijie, the present Attorney-General for the state, was taken aback by the announcement. He said that he had no knowledge of any such plans being proposed to him.

In the 2008 moratorium that was overseen by former PM Rudd, it stated that a cap of 19,310 pokie machines in the state can be allowed, out of a total limit of twenty thousand. About six-hundred and ninety of these, on the other hand, will be in the hands of the Government in charge of the country. After the moratorium had expired on April of this year, as part of the stipulations of the past moratorium, five hundred pokie machines that were then listed under the government should be handed over to the care of the casinos, whilst the remaining one-hundred and ninety would have to be divided by the local pokie pubs.

However, since the past moratorium had also introduced a specification that called for an overall cap of 24,705 pokie machines which can be made available to the pokie clubs, that means that any of the machines can be legally sold off to any interested club in Queensland.

However, Bleijie remains adamant that he did not approve of anything that concerns the increase of pokie machines in the state, adding that there was “no proposal” given to shown  to him by the OLGR, or any other related branch of the government, for that matter. His statement was in direct contradiction to an announcement made by an OLGR spokeswoman earlier this week when she said that “One hundred of the remaining 190 hotel gaming machine authorities were released into an authorised sale that closed on June 6, 2012. The outcome of this tender process is not yet known”, whilst adding that “Three hundred and eighty entitlements are held by the state. The majority of these entitlements are likely to be offered for sale in September 2012.” It’s certainly no surprise when two branches of the government set about contradicting each other in public.