Outrage over plan to install pokies in shopping centre

Melissa Buttigieg
News Reporter

A controversial plan to put poker machines inside a suburban Brisbane shopping centre has sparked outrage among residents, with the plan approved despite claims 80 per cent of locals oppose the move.

The plan to place 45 machines inside the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, at the Pig ‘N’ Whistle pub  adjacent to the centre’s food court, has been approved by the Office of Liquor and Gaming.

Some locals argue the move exposes gambling to a whole new generation. However, despite outrage from the public, Queensland’s liquor and gaming commissioner claims the pokies will be out of sight and out of mind for most shoppers.

A controversial plan to put 45 poker machines inside a suburban Brisbane shopping centre has sparked outrage among residents. Source: AAP, file

Greens MP Michael Berkman told Sunrise on Wednesday morning a volunteer-run community survey of locals found 80 per cent of residents didn’t want the pokies in the “family-friendly environment” and only 30 per cent were even aware of the plan.

He is joining residents to fight the approval, which he described as “stacked against the community’s interest”.

“[The application] levelled in favour of the gaming industry, the powerful gaming lobby and the venues that are just making a killing out of these machines,” Mr Berkman said.

“The location is just inappropriate and it really does expose so many more people to gambling. These are machines that we know are designed to addict and they are taking advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in the community.”

The plan to place poker machines inside the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, at the Pig ‘N’ Whistle pub has been approved by the Office of Liquor and Gaming. Source: Google Maps

He described the push-back as “a strong underlying community sentiment”, saying dozens of people came to his office when they found out about the application, labelling the public consultation process as “really weak”.

An Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation spokeswoman told The Brisbane Times the gaming machines at the Pig ‘N’ Whistle were approved in a designated gaming area it says that was not easily accessible to the centre’s shoppers.

“It is located at the rear of the premises. The machines would not be visible to persons outside of the hotel, including from inside the shopping centre,” she said.

“Further, as a condition of their licence, the licensee is required to ensure the gaming machine area is under constant supervision to ensure that minors do not enter the area.”

Mr Berkman is hosting a community meeting to discuss the next step for the application appeal on November 28.