AFTER nearly two years of sometimes acrimonious debate, Mornington Peninsula Shire has increased the rent for land leased by the Hastings Cricket and Football Social Club in Marine Parade.
However, the increase from $4000 a year to $15,000 initially, could have been $61,000 if the shire had adopted a “commercial” figure.
The club, which has 50 gaming machines, will be charged $15,000 (plus GST) a year in the first year of a its new 21-year lease, rising to $25,000 a year in three years and then paying three per cent increases for the following 18 years.
The decision by council at its Tuesday 24 July meeting brings the rent in well below the $61,000 a year identified in a report commissioned by the shire from valuers Charter Keck Cramer.
Much of the argument for the club to pay a substantial rent increase was based on the shire’s responsible gaming strategy which, among its goals and objectives, seeks to “ensure that venues operating gaming machines on shire owned land make a positive contribution to the community”.
Figures released last week show $84 million was lost to gaming machines on the Mornington Peninsula between July 2017 and June this year. In neighbouring Frankston gamblers lost $64.6m.
Figures released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation put losses at the Hastings Cricket and Football Social Club at $3.278m.
Losses at the other pokies venue in Hastings, the Western Port Hotel, were shown as $4.76m.
In deciding on the $15,000 – $25,000 rent, councillors effectively rejected arguments put forward by property and strategy manager Yasmin Woods for the rent to start at $42,000 (plus GST), climbing to $52,000 by the third year and then increasing by three per cent for each of the following 18 years.
Ms Woods said the recommended starting rent of $42,000 a year included a subsidy based on the club providing benefits to the community.
She said two consecutive annual increases of $5000 “is considered to be a fair and reasonable rental”.
The shire’s responsible gaming strategy notes that “the presence of gaming machines changes the nature of operations of a community club. Gaming machines are a commercial activity that attracts new financial resources to the venue, resources that are not available to clubs without gaming machines”.
The policy continues: “The organisation operating gaming machines on shire owned or managed property should pay a fair rent for the property. This fair rent should be based on a commercial/market rent for the property discounted by the demonstrated social benefit by the organisation to the broad community.”
The club’s previous 21-year $4000 a year lease expired on 31 December 2016. The club has a liquor licence and a gaming venue operator’s licence for its 50 gaming machines that is valid until 16 August 2022.