By Ian Neubauer

A plan by actor Russell Crowe and his former business partner Peter Holmes a Court to remove poker machines from the South Sydney Leagues Club (SSLC) has been overwhelmingly rejected by the club’s board.

In a vote held yesterday (August 17), 97 out of 100 board members rejected the plan that was to see the club’s 60 poker-machine licenses sold and revenue streams sought in areas, including facility rental and better F&B offerings, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

SSLC president, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, said the plan failed in part because none of the charities of community groups who lauded it offered support. “We were left to do it. It was going to be a very tough task,” he said.

SSLC board member and Katoomba hotelier, Sean Glassford, described the plan that would have halved the club’s $3.5 million annual income as “suicidal”, while others said it was unreasonable to tell people how to spend their money.

The vote was cast amid a period of unprecedented financial hardship for registered clubs that has seen their profitability plummet following the introduction of no-smoking regulations and a general economic downturn. NSW Clubs have been the hardest hit in the nation, with 25 venues forced to close or amalgamate last fiscal year.

Their predicament is expected to go from bad to worse as the State Government prepares to slug them with rent increases of up to 1000 per cent as their rates are brought in line with commercial rental values. The new rent applies to clubs on crown land that attract more than $1 million per year from poker machine revenue, News Ltd reported.
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