Labor Clubs make $25 million on pokies
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Labor Clubs make $25 million on pokies

The Labor Party-owned Labor Club group made $25.1 million from its poker machines in the last financial year, by far its most significant source of income.

As clubs around the city scramble to develop land and find new business models, the Labor Club group's annual report shows an ongoing reliance on the money that comes from its 488 poker machines.

The Labor Party's club in Belconnen, where most of the group's poker machine profits are made.

The Labor Party's club in Belconnen, where most of the group's poker machine profits are made.Credit:Jasmine Highfield

The group reported "other revenue", presumably largely from food and drink sales, of $5.8 million in the year, and rental and other income of $1.7 million. Total revenue was $32.6 million, more than three-quarters of which came from gamblers' losses on pokies.

In the previous year, the party reported a loss after donating $2.5 million to the Labor Party's investment vehicle, the 1973 Foundation.

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No similar donation is disclosed this year, although the party's rules say any profits not required for the club must be paid to the ACT branch of the Labor Party.

The club group reported a profit of $2.4 million for 2014-15. It also adjusted its loss for the year before from a $770,000 loss, as reported in the 2013-14 annual report, to a figure now reported as $206,000.

In another adjustment to the 2013-14 figures, the club group has significantly altered a gain from the revaluation of fixed assets, presumably buildings. The 2013-14 figure of $6.2 million has been changed to $1.87 million.

President Tony Luchetti said in his report that the club board was continuing to focus on diversifying the revenue streams in challenging times, but provided no detail.

In 2013, the group announced plans for a $35 million, 150-room hotel in Belconnen. It is unclear what came of that project.

In the annual report, chief executive Arthur Roufogalis said the club had diverted much time during the year to a failed attempt to buy the car park next door to its Belconnen venue. The club had used the car park since it was set up 37 years ago, but in June this year the ACT government had auctioned the site. The club had missed out at auction and was now looking for alternative parking.

The site was bought for $22.1 million by Geocon, with one of the sale conditions being the development of 300 carparks to lease to the club.

The annual report also suggests a substantial investment in gambling machines in the financial year.

Three gaming companies, including Aristocrat, were paid $2.88 million for "gaming hardware and servicing" in the 2014-15 year.

The government changed the reporting rules this year, requiring clubs to only report contracts worth $100,000 or more, so the $2.88 million only applies to those bigger contracts, with any smaller ones going unreported.

In 2013-14, when clubs had to detail contracts of $50,000 or more, the Labor Club group reported five contracts for gaming hardware and serving, most under the threshold, totalling $1.37 million.

The club has five people on the payroll being paid more than $150,000 a year.

The club group has four clubs – the biggest in the Belconnen town centre, and others at Charnwood, in the city and at Weston Creek.

Four of the nine board members were replaced in the year, with new members University of Canberra scientist Sandra Thomas, public servant Gabrielle Blair, solicitor Jessica Hughes and education union employee Garrett Purtill joining the board.

They join Mr Luchetti, university lecturer Brian Weir, retiree Phil Beattie, consultant Mark Nelson and former parliamentarian Wayne Berry. Mr Berry is the group's treasurer. He and Mr Weir are the longest-standing board members other than Mr Luchetti, both appointed in 2009.

Mr Berry is father of sitting Assembly member Yvette Berry, whose adviser Lisa Judge was a very shortlived member of the board, for just one month in November 2014. Ms Berry asked Ms Judge to resign the post to avoid any conflict with her role in the Assembly.

Six of the nine board members are appointed by the Labor Party's annual conference.

Kirsten Lawson is news director at The Canberra Times

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