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Clubland warns of rise in pokies tax

Canberra Southern Cross Club.

Canberra Southern Cross Club.

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.''


  • Perhaps John Lewis could take a pay cut !!

    Clubs are not making a profit as they continue to borrow to build new pokie dens (6 VENUES). The gov't should not reward them for going in debt to reduce their profit margins. The Southern cross club also closed a community facility PitchnPutt.

    Lewis also says declining patronage, well that has been happening for years, people have either lost all their money on the pokies or have better things to do with their hard earned or better places to eat and have fun.

    A 1000 tax per machine is good, it will return money to the community, and clubs can reduce this tax simply by reducing the number of pokies. 650 machines for one club is a bit much as is 5000 for one town.

    CLubsACT says they are having a tough time transitioning well the Brumbies are converting a once public playing field into housing, as is Cronulla. I hope he isn't going to ask for more of our playing fields.

    Date and time
    September 03, 2013, 6:42AM
    • 'ClubsACT chief 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."'

      - No, it's like asking Phillip Morris to make a profit after banning cigarette advertising.

      Date and time
      September 03, 2013, 7:18AM
      • How about all you do gooders OUT THERE have a look at the other side of this story and that is the disgrace that is the ever expanding, offshore owned and un-regulated ONLINE BETTING INDUSTRY.
        For years we have railed about the evils of poker machines, regardless of what part of their profit was directed back into the community by sporting and other not for profit clubs, but at least we could identify the problem gamblers on the premises and do something about them.
        The real downside here is for the clubs out there that fund sporting teams in the community, my own funds up to 40 amateur sports, where does that money come from now, surely not the government, they only waste billions on elite athlets who screw them for every penny.
        Now, problem gamblers are invisible, which is I suspect just the way governments want them, they just pick up their mobile phone and bet away as they see fit, no control, no regulation, no assistance for the problem gambler and most of all, NO RESPONSIBILITY TAKEN BY GOVERNMENTS, they just take a large cut of the profits in taxes and put it into consolidated revenue, BLOODY HYPOCRITES.

        Date and time
        September 03, 2013, 8:21AM
        • Cry me a river clubs! If you see your only way forward as being completely reliant on poker machines, then in my opinion there is no place in the community for you.Seriously though, amongst all this talk of 'lack of growth' - what exactly are these clubs trying to grow into? Are they striving to be the Rooty Hill RSL of Canberra?

          If it was me setting the rates, they'd be paying a whole lot more than $1,000 a machine and the minimal tax rates they pay on their income from machines. If you are going to rip the soul out of the community through poker machine profits and thus the misery of problem gamblers, then you deserve to get taxed, and taxed hard, just like tobacco is. For Gaming machines arguably are far more damaging than booze or tobacco.

          I'm really sick of the clubs playing the 'sooky sooky la la' card. Grow some, find a way to diversify and find income streams that don't feed on misery and social discourse, just so that you can offer cheap schnitzels and cheap booze.

          And as for Southern Cross Club - if I'm reading it right, they had a loss of $200k, which included a $500,000 writedown for 'goodwill'. Now to me that suggests they actually made $300k beofre the accounting write down. Seems like they are doing alright for a 'not for profit' group to me. It always has and always will be an excuse for a junket for the bosses running the joint.

          Date and time
          September 03, 2013, 8:58AM
          • The Clubs ad campaign several months ago where the slogan was something like 'Clubs, part of the solution' was so contrary to the truth it made me want to barf. Sorry guys, you're the problem. We don't see anyone else promoting such a glut of pokies.

            Relying on poker machines to raise revenue is morally bankrupt. I like the idea of community clubs but poker machines damage our communities and way of life. Raise the taxes higher, I say, to get rid of this scourge, and if clubs can't change their business models to adapt to a healthier contribution to society, then let them go bust. We'd be better off without them.

            Date and time
            September 03, 2013, 9:16AM
            • Well I think that the clubs are going to have to start asking their patrons for donations. eg. take up a donation at football matches or hand around the plates at church to keep THEIR football clubs or church clubs alive. They are there for THOSE members and if THOSE members are not willing to support them, then the club should not NOT EXIST.

              That would be far more honourable than continually milking poker machine players dry many of whom have a sickness that is called an 'addiction' and possibly don't even watch the football nor go to church.

              Where there is an addiction, there seems to be an array of parasites willing to use and take advantage of the addicted for their MONEY.

              Date and time
              September 03, 2013, 9:29AM
              • If all you previous commenters don't like poker machines so much don't play them simple as that. Why should there be higher taxes on poker machines in fact why should there be $1000 per machine charge at all? charge them tax on the profits they make and leave it at that. The clubs don't force anyone to play the poker machines they are simply providing a service that some choose to take up and some do not the only difference with this service to any other they provide is you choose how much to pay for this one!

                Date and time
                September 03, 2013, 11:47AM
                • Milo11 - The licence fee makes perfect sense... as if set correctly, it should reflect the administrative costs faced by Governemnt from regulating the damn things.

                  Noone is arguing whether people should or should not play them.... the problem with pokies is that they are designed to be addictive, and for many problem gamblers out there, they are addicted to playing. They do a huge amount of harm to our community, which is not offset by clubs offering cheap booze, cheap scnitzels and supporting local sporting teams.

                  Look at it this way - would you be happy if clubs replaced poker machines with machines which got you addicted to nicotine (some sort of smoking machine) and meant you kept going back for more. the problem most have is that poker machines target the vulnerable and hurt those that can't afford to lose the money.

                  If only the decision for everyone to play them was voluntary, then there would not be an issue. But it is not. Pokies are a plague on our society - if the money was spent elsewhere, it would be far better for our country than it disappearing down the coin slot at your local pokies den, aka 'clubland'

                  Date and time
                  September 03, 2013, 4:14PM
              • It is disappointing that gaming machines continue to be heavily criticised, when the fact remains that in the ACT, they are more heavily regulated than any other form of gambling. Granted there are many problem gamblers in the ACT, however not all of them play gaming machines and those other problem gamblers are left in limbo without support that Clubs must offer problem gamblers.
                Bob’s previous comment about online gambling is spot on. The Govt are happy to take the revenue, but take no accountability for the impact of this problem.
                In 2011/12 community contributions amounted to $12.8 million dollars from clubs to the wider community. This included assistance to sporting clubs and groups that support those with disabilities, as an example. In contrast in the same period, more than $35 million was taken in Govt revenue which went where?
                There is no question that the smart Clubs should look to diversify their business so as not to rely on gaming machines to the extent they have in the past, however at the end of the day it is an individual’s own choice to play a gaming machine.
                For those that would say get rid of them altogether, it does not stop someone from gambling nor provide contributions to groups that need a helping hand. It does however push gambling into other forms that are not controlled nor regulated as much and profits from online gambling often go offshore.

                Date and time
                September 03, 2013, 2:55PM
                Comments are now closed

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