ACT News


Clubland warns of rise in pokies tax

One of Canberra's largest club groups has warned that the ACT's clubs are at risk of being taxed to death amid worsening economic conditions.

The Southern Cross Club will tell it its 85,000 members in the next few days that it lost more than $200,000 in the 2012-2013 financial year and been forced into a $500,000 write-down.

Southern Cross chief executive John Lewis has warned things could get worse if the ACT government goes ahead with an expansion of its taxes on poker machines.

The city's clubs lobby group has backed up the call.

ClubsACT says the gaming venues are being squeezed from all sides and hopes of growth are a thing of the past.

But the ACT government said on Monday there were no firm plans for new taxes.


In a mail-out to all the Southern Cross Club members, Mr Lewis will tell of a difficult year for the outfit that operates 650 poker machines across six venues. ''The financial year 2012-13 will be remembered as a difficult year for the Canberra Southern Cross Club, and indeed all clubs across the ACT,'' Mr Lewis said.

''The uncertain political environment in which we live affects Canberra's spending, and causes a general downturn in clubs' patronage across Canberra. The club movement, through ClubsACT, must deal with yet another proposal from the ACT to further tax clubs.

''If that taxation burden on clubs isn't lessened, there is no doubt that more clubs will become financially unviable, and close, resulting in a loss of valuable community services and facilities.''

Mr Lewis also told his members declining patronage had led to a write-down of the value of the clubs' ''goodwill'' of $506,000 and he

appealed to members to spend more time at their clubs.

Many in the clubs industry suspect the territory government is planning an annual levy of up to $1000 on each of the city's 5000 poker machines but a spokesman for Gaming Minister Joy Burch said poker machine reform was still at discussion paper stage.

''The government is currently collating the submissions received from stakeholders to the paper, and will not pre-empt the outcome of the consultation process,'' the spokesman said.

ClubsACT chief executive Jeff House said clubs were having a tough time trying to develop income streams other than gambling. ''Clubs will need all the help they can get in order to make this transition. It's like asking BHP Billiton to continue to make a profit without mining coal or iron.

''Certainly no one in the industry talks about growth any more. I believe the government wants a diverse, sustainable and vibrant community club industry but we will continue to make the case that it's not the right time to be increasing taxation on an industry - particularly when that industry was promised tax relief back in 2007.''


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