Sat, Jul 29, 7:27am by Staff Writer
Pressure is growing on Victorian-based AFL clubs to dump their pokies licenses after it was revealed they reaped $94 million in the past year.
Anti-pokies campaigners have accused the clubs, including competition powerhouses such as Hawthorn and Collingwood, of funding the millionaire lifestyles of their players through their pokie revenue.
Hawthorn, the winners of three of the past four AFL premierships, have raked in over $23 million from its two venues featuring a combined 155 pokies.
Carlton operate by far the most pokie machines, with 290, with $17.6 million returned from their four venues, while Essendon’s pokie windfall dropped by 2.2 per cent to $11.85 million
Collingwood, Melbourne, Geelong, Richmond and Western Bulldogs also operate pokie machines with North Melbourne the only Victorian club who does not operate machines.
The amounts collected by the clubs was described as ‘disturbingly large’ by Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Tim Costello.
“Hawthorn and all other AFL clubs should get out of the pokies misery business — football is a wealthy industry which does not need to prey on vulnerable people in parts of Melbourne suffering above average stress and hardship,” he told the Herald Sun.
“Victorians concerned about gambling should think hard about taking out a second club membership with North Melbourne to voice their support for the Roos which have now been pokies-free for a decade without any other Victorian club following their honourable lead.”
Geelong have also indicated they are working towards a pokie-free future for the club having moved its 105 pokies from its stadium-based Club Cats.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation figures showed overall pokie losses had dropped to $2.61 billion last financial year, but there were rises in several suburban areas, such as the City of Casey in Melbourne’s outer south-east.
The City of Brimbank in Melbourne’s west recorded the highest pokie losses of $134 million, but it dropped substantially for $143m the previous year.
The Victorian Government recently capped the amount of pokie venues at its current limit of 27,342 for the next 25 years, but it also allowed individual operators to double their pokie numbers to 840, capped at a maximum of 105 per venue.
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