Romsey Club’s Hotel bid denied

June 26, 2024
Jane Louise

The Romsey Football Netball Club (RFNC) has had its application for 50 gaming machines at the Romsey Hotel refused by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC).

A panel of three commissioners comprising Fran Thorn (chair), Andrew Scott (deputy chair) and Clair Miller (commissioner) handed down the decision last Friday after a four-day hearing was held at the end of May.

The application to the VGCCC by the RFNC was submitted as part of a wider application encompassing a $10 million renovation and extension of the pub, which has been closed for the past seven years.

Twenty years ago, a similar proposal for the Romsey Hotel was submitted, hitting the headlines as the decisions around gaming machines were reversed twice.

At that time Macedon Ranges Shire Council (MRSC) rejected the proposal after significant community opposition. The owner won their appeal, but the supreme court determined the decision was made in error, overturning the second ruling.

While the RFNC’s application was similar to the original, the Club pointed out that while the town previously had six hotels, Romsey currently has none.

Feedback received by the RFNC suggested having an operating pub was desired by the community.

The proposal included a bistro, wine bar, café, function space, sports bar and a gaming lounge.

Artist rendition of the proposal

It anticipated employing one hundred staff as well as providing apprenticeships for locals and attracting visitors to the town.

The proposal also differed in its distribution of profits, ensuring a collaboration between the owner and RFNC, with profits being put directly back into the community. It further planned to address problem gambling.

In opposition to this recent proposal, the council commissioned a Social and Economic Impact Assessment, including a survey of all Romney residents to assist in informing its decision.

MRSC also released a draft of its own Gambling Harm Prevention Policy, highlighting 25 points of action including declining support for activities in venues with gambling, actively discouraging new or further electronic gaming machines and banning any form of gambling at any site it owns or manages.

Kyneton Bowling Club

This new policy will directly impact Kyneton Bowling Club, the sole business on MRSC land that is a gaming operator.

The historic Kyneton Bowling Club began in 1876, and is the oldest continuing club by the same name and on the same site, in Victoria. It introduced gaming machines in 1995 in order to prop up dwindling finances.

In a media statement yesterday, MRSC said it was pleased with the VGCCC decision in light of “community sentiment and the negative wellbeing impacts”.

MRSC also reiterated its position in support of business investment in the area.

The VGCCC is yet to release its reasons for the decision.

Artist’s impression of the proposed development


Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Romsey Football Netball Club, Romsey Hotel, VGCCC

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