Wednesday, 17 September 2008

You show me yours but I won't show you mine

Talk about the lack of a level playing field. Some players in the Romsey pokies case have all the information and others are just left to guess.

The afternoon of Day 3 was warmed up by two members of the Romsey community procured by the applicant Hogan. The first witness might have been a bit of a "whoops" when he conceded that he would prefer that the improvements would be made to the Romsey Hotel without the pokies. The second thought that pokies would be the best thing that ever happened to Romsey as it would bring the town up to par with everywhere else. Another die-hard observer sitting next to me whispered maybe that's why people chose to live in small town Romsey because its not like everywhere else.

Then the floodgates of statistical information were opened wide by the witness employed by Tattersall's, Mr. Whitehouse. I gathered that he ran a division that figured out whether Tatt's should invest in one area or another. To do this they hired a firm that put together a statistical model that showed what the likely income would be.

Romsey must have measured up. The problem with the evidence is that it measured up too well.

Counsel for the Shire opposing the application stated to the His Honour that this evidence was relevant to the finding of 'net economic benefit'. If the pokies drew more money out of the town than it was putting back, the pokie application must get a knock back.

So Mr. Whitehouse had to do a balanced show and tell. First he had to show that his model gave good information. His 'tell' was that the results would be OK enough so Hogan would be able to make good on his promises of employment, donations to local sporting groups, and improved facilities (even tho' he seems not to have made good on all his Wallan promises). Finally Mr. Whitehouse had to tell the Tribunal that the money sucked out of town would not be too great so as to screw the Romsey economy. A paper called "Gaming 101" was procured.

The core value of these projections are based upon actual pokie turnovers at Tatt's pokies. Is anyone else allowed to see these stats? Not the Shire. Not the public sitting in the gallery.

Who?

The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation. And they aren't showing anything yet.

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