In Australia, gambling operators are required by law to donate some of their revenue to the community and charitable purposes. In the state of Victoria, club pokies operators must document their contributions annually. This qualifies them for a reduction in gambling tax.
The Conversation found that clubs donated mostly to themselves in a 2019 article, which states that a number of club categories ‘community benefits’ as their own operating expenses.
This is permitted under the regulations but is at odds with the claim that clubs provide support to the community. In Victoria, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation estimated the social costs of gambling in the state to be $7 billion in 2017. Gambling losses in the state were $5.5 billion, with state government revenue from gambling at $1.9 billion. The Victorian community benefits scheme is unique in its relative transparency.
Clubs are required by law to spend at least 8.33 per cent of total pokies losses on community contributions. This allows clubs to claim philanthropic, charitable or benevolent contributions, as well as operating expenses. If the target is met, clubs enjoy an 8.33 per cent tax break compared to hotel operators.