By Ian Neubauer
A report by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has found registered clubs in NSW can only operate without poker machines if unpaid work is carried out by members and volunteers.
The NSW Government requested IPART undertake the review to provide information required to develop a plan to ensure the long-term survival of registered clubs in the state.
ClubsNSW CEO David Costello said the report helps put the debate about poker machines into a holistic context.
“It’s important that when discussing gambling we as a community take a holistic approach. As IPART has found, poker machines allow clubs to provide a service and contribution to the community that exists nowhere else in the world,” Costello said.
“I think people often forget or underestimate the importance of the affordable meals and entertainment available in clubs. Similarly, it is only through the financial support of clubs that many junior and amateur sporting teams have equipment and fields to play on. All these services and more are only possible because of the income clubs receive from poker machines,” he said.
The findings contrast recent developments at Sydney’s Souths Leagues Club, which announced in December it would abandon its 60 poker machines and rely on a membership drive to make up for the loss in revenue.
“The days of massive leagues club grants from poker machines to football clubs are things of the past,” Souths Leagues Club executive chairman, Peter Holmes a Court, told The Australian at the time. “The community has given us a very clear statement that we have to move on from pokie machines.”
ClubsNSW’s Costello alluded that the Souths Leagues Club was not representative of the 1400 clubs in the state as it was owned by Homes a Court and his business partner, actor Russell Crowe.
“I wish every club had a millionaire businessman and Hollywood actor supporting it, in effect acting as club volunteers,” he said. But unfortunately that’s just not possible when we have 1,400 clubs across the state.”