St Albans Sports Club playground plan reversed

By Laura Michell

Brimbank council has rejected a request for a permanent indoor playground for St Albans Sports Club, fearing it would expose children and their families to gambling.

The club, which is located in Kings Park Reserve by virtue of the council, has a temporary indoor playground and has 35 electronic gaming machines (EGMs).

The municipality rejected a request for an indoor playground at the site in 2016.

In a letter to the council, the club said the permanent indoor playground would make the club “more inclusive” for “families and women”.

The letter noted that seven of the 15 play areas in Brimbank have children’s play areas. including Green Gully Soccer Club, which stands on municipal grounds.

However, a report to a council meeting on Tuesday, April 19, advised councilors to reject the proposal, with city officials finding the negative effects of the playground “outweigh” the positive effects, especially the likelihood of increased exposure of EGMs to children. and families”.

The report said the council had a strategy for damage control when it came to gambling, with Brimbank recording the highest losses on poker machines in the state, with a record $14.98 million lost in December 2021.

Cr Virginia Tachos said she feared adopting a playground in a location with poker machines would encourage gambling and normalize children’s behavior.

‚ÄúThis report shows the evidence that playgrounds with children’s playgrounds recorded a 22.6 percent increase in average daily losses. [between 2020-21 an 2019-20]…compared to a 6.5 percent increase for those with no play area for the kids,” she said.

Crs Trung Luu, Sam David and Bruce Lancashire voted against the recommendation, believing the playground would benefit the club.

Cr Luu said the club had proactively worked with the municipality to develop a program to minimize damage from gambling and said the officers’ recommendation to roll back the playground proposal was unfair.

He said the council was “punishing” the club despite its efforts to reduce the impact of gambling on its customers.

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