AFL club Geelong Cats bow out of gaming

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
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Geelong is set to become the latest club to exit the gaming industry, after agreeing to terms to sell The Brook in Point Cook to Melbourne Racing Club.

The racing club also recently bought two gaming venues from the Western Bulldogs in Dromana and Footscray, after buying 156 gaming machines from Collingwood in 2018.

North Melbourne was the first non-Victorian to exit the gaming industry in 2008, according to Fox Sports.

Carlton, Essendon, Hawthorn, Richmond, Melbourne and St Kilda all still profit from the machines, but the Demons have signalled their intentions to depart the industry once their current license expires in 2022.

The Cats expect the final settlement to take place early next year.

Geelong president Colin Carter said the club no longer wanted to collect revenue streams from gambling and will pursue more non-football revenue streams.

“The club determined that gaming and gambling revenues did not align with our values and core purpose, developing a strategy to exit,” Carter said.

“We are all pleased and proud that with this sale agreement, we have exited all partnerships that include gaming and gambling, including declining any and all gambling advertising at GMHBA Stadium for our home games, and all investments that involve gaming and gambling entities.

“These decisions have meant the club has had to evolve our business model, as at one stage we generated around $4 million in profits from gaming.

“We have sought to improve our non-football revenues with initiatives such as Higher Mark, our hospitality arm, and we are continuing to pursue new ventures.”

“The funds generated from the sale will be used to invest in future non-traditional opportunities and will not be utilised to fund the day-to-day operations of the club.”

Cats remove gambling advertising from home stadium

The Geelong Cats’ home stadium was the first regular AFL venue in Victoria to have a gambling advertising blackout on its LED signage and scoreboard.

GMHBA Stadium was a gambling-free stadium in 2019 and beyond according to a report published in The Age in March.

The Cats had previously committed to rid GMHBA Stadium of gambling advertising by the 2020 season, but achieved their goal a year early.

The club is not set to suffer financially from the move and will meet its commitment to be debt-free for the first time in 50 years by 2021, even with its exit from poker machines to be completed soon.

Geelong sells 20 per cent of its LED advertising space to TechFront, which on-sells the space to advertisers.

The club estimates that one third of that 20 per cent has been sold to betting companies in recent seasons.

In a re-negotiation of the contract the external company has agreed not to sell advertising space to gambling advertisers.

None of the 80 per cent of remaining space that Geelong sells itself goes to betting companies.

Mars Stadium in Ballarat also has no gambling advertising on its fixed-ad boards, but only hosts two Western Bulldogs home games each season.

Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said the decision was about making sure all the club’s activities aligned with its values and principles.

“It’s extremely important for our club to be gambling and gaming free,” Mr Cook told The Age.

“Simply from a visual perspective it is a good view. It’s an agreed variation of the contract. The only gambling activity we will have at our club including match day and non-match day will be at Wyndham (pokies).

Bookie Neds sponsors the Brisbane Lions

Geelong’s decision comes shortly after the Brisbane Lions became the first AFL side since 2013 to feature a corporate betting logo on its jersey.

Online bookmaker Neds has joined the Lions as a co-major sponsor after tech start-up SOOW allegedly failed to make payments pursuant to the partnership announced late last year, The Age reports.

The Lions have a chequered history with sponsors, with former major partner Camperdown Dairy International collapsing in 2017m only months after apparel provider BLK folded.

The debt-ridden Lions are one of a number of clubs who remain heavily reliant on the AFL for funding, receiving $23.6 million from the league in 2018.

The Federal Government recently announced that it would fund the Lions’ long-awaited training and administration in Springfield, 33km from the Brisbane CBD at a cost of $15 million.

Betting ads are shown on LED signs at the MCG and Marvel Stadium.

Mr Cook said Geelong would finalise the sale of its remaining pokies at The Brook on Sneydes in Point Cook within a year.

Its pokies exit began in 2015 and had been lengthy due to difficulty in replacing the revenue.

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