Mon, Jul 29, 1:44pm by Staff Writer
AFL clubs raked in millions of dollars from poker machines last year, as pokies losses in Victorian pubs and clubs swelled to $2.7 billion, the second highest amount on record.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that losses hit the highest level in 10 years, thanks to data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
The City of Brimbank – covering St Albans, Sunshine and surrounding areas – topped the list at $143 million as the local government area with the greatest losses.
The $2.69 billion lost in the 2018/19 financial year is the second highest on record, after 2009.
It is only slightly higher than last year’s figure though, with just a 0.13 per cent increase, even with population growth and inflation.
Data shows more than $77 million was lost in poker machines owned by Victorian AFL clubs.
Hawthorn had the greatest share making just under $24.7 million from its 165 machines at the West Waters Hotel in Caroline Springs and Vegas at Waverley Gardens in Mulgrave.
Carlton was next on the list with $17.8 million, followed by Essendon at $11.1 million, Geelong at $7 million, the Western Bulldogs earning $5.8 million, with Richmond ($5.3 million), Melbourne ($2.8 million) and St Kilda ($2.3 million) rounding out the list.
The Cats, Dogs and Demons have all pledged to exit poker machines in the coming years.
Hawthorn, Carlton, Essendon, Richmond and St Kilda were all recently handed new 20-year licences to operate their machines until 2042.
They are coming under pressure with regards to the controversial money makers though, with other Victorian clubs exiting machines or pledging to do so.
Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello said poker machines lead to the loss of “much more than money”.
#sportslaw AFL clubs reaped millions of dollars from poker machines last year, as pokies losses in Victorian pubs and clubs swelled to $2.7 billion – the second highest amount on record. Vic state's poorest suburbs were over-represented. #gambling https://t.co/diQzkDoFpA
— Melbourne Sports Law (@sportslawMELB) July 27, 2019
“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives due to suicide,” he said.
“How can the AFL possibly promote good mental health and family values when it is profiting from gambling harm?”
AFL commission chairman Richard Goyder has previously said he wants clubs to reduce their dependence on the gambling revenue.
Collingwood got out this year selling its pokies venues – The Club in Melton and the Coach and Horses in Maroondah – late in calendar year 2018.
Those two venues took $12.9 million in losses across the full 2019 financial year.
The Bulldogs took $5.8 million from Club Leeds in Footscray and the Peninsula Club in Dromana, while Geelong took $7 million form its Brook on Sneydes hotel in Point Cook, which it hopes to sell this year.
Melbourne sold its Leighoak Club early in the year and made $2.8 million from its remaining venue, the Bentleigh Club in Glen Eira.
The club will not renew its licence on that club’s machines when it expires in 2022.
A spokesman for Victorian Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz said the government was tackling problem gambling by freezing the number of pokies across the state until 2042, capping the number of pokies in vulnerable areas and limiting EFTPOS withdrawals in venues.
The Epping Plaza Hotel was the venue in Victoria with the highest losses at $20.2 million, followed by Berwick Spring Hotel ($19.6 million), the Plough Hotel in Mill Park ($19.6 million), Kealba Hotel in Sunshine ($19.2 million), and Skyways Taverner in Airport West ($18.6 million).
The Casey, Greater Geelong, Greater Dandenong, Hume, Monash and Wyndham council areas all recorded losses of over $100 million, the data shows.
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