Geelong Cats end long association with pokies
The Geelong Football Club has ended its long association with pokies venues by selling its Point Cook pokies venue.
The Geelong Advertiser reports the Cats announced the completion of the protracted sale of The Brook Point Cook to the Melbourne Racing Club.
The sale was originally expected to settle in early 2020 for a seven-figure sum, but was delayed because the venue had to shut its doors during the coronavirus pandemic, Cats chief Brian Cook said.
Less than a decade ago, the club pocketed $4 million per year from gambling.
It had 180 pokie machines across two venues and benefited from gambling sponsorship at its home ground.
Monday’s sale means it has now gone cold turkey, no longer making any money from those venues.
“This is a proud day for our club,” Mr Cook said.
“If you look at our mission, it’s quite obvious gaming doesn’t fit, and if you look at our values, it doesn’t fit in there either.
“We have a value of being commercial and considered. You need to consider the effect of gaming on all people, not only those who enjoy it and find it as a pastime but also those who get into it in an unhealthy way.
“That, in the end, was the crunch for us; we didn’t necessarily want to be involved in an activity that had detrimental outcomes to a number of people in the community.”
The Brook has a licence for 80 gaming machines.
Geelong previously operated a further 100 at Kardinia Park, but switched them off during a stadium upgrade six years ago and sold most of the licences to other operators.
Cook said the club would turn its attention and the money made by selling The Brook to other pursuits.
“We decided we’d go into, in the first instance, businesses that are around health and wellbeing,” he said.
In January, the Cats announced they had purchased Geelong’s Gym in Newtown.
Cook said an upgrade to that business was in the pipeline and similar ventures were being investigated.
Geelong council opposes new pokies application
A council in Victoria has voted to oppose an application for 11 additional electronic gaming machines at a popular hotel.
Mirage News reported in September that an application made by Waurn Ponds Hotel has been opposed by Greater Geelong council, having declared its opposition to an increase in pokies in the region.
Further emphasising its desire to reduce the impact of gaming machines in the community, councillors also resolved to write to the Victorian government, requesting a reduction in Greater Geelong’s electronic gaming machine cap.
An alternative motion put forward by Cr Sarah Mansfield and supported by the council at last Tuesday’s meeting noted the “increased community concern about the harm caused to individuals and the wider community through problem gambling.”
The Victorian government has set a cap of 1421 gaming machines across Greater Geelong and the Borough of Queenscliffe.
There are 1357 pokies licenses allocated, with 64 still available.
All venues wishing to secure a license must apply to the Victorian Council for Liquor and Gambling Regulation.
If Waurn Ponds Hotel is successful in its bid, its poker machine numbers would increase from 70 to 81.
Councillors opposed the proposal for more machines, based on the fact that Greater Geelong already has more machines than any other region in Victoria, creating substantial financial losses in the community.
The council believes COVID-19 has created additional financial and social stress, not captured in the Census data used to inform the application.
Pokies in Greater Geelong generated $119 million in losses during the 2018-19 financial year, with the 70 existing machines at Waurn Ponds Hotel accounting for $6.6 million.
Council has objected to three recent applications from venues in the region, appearing in person at all three VCGLR hearings.
These challenges resulted in the refusal of an application for extra machines at White Eagle House in Breakwater, and more stringent conditions on the introduction of additional machines at Geelong RSL in Mansfield.