Clubs to keep community contributions - with a catch
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Clubs to keep community contributions - with a catch

Canberra clubs will retain control over their compulsory community contributions, but will be forced to pay an extra percentage of their net gaming revenue to the Chief Minister's Charitable Fund, under a shake-up of the current scheme.

ACT Gaming minister Gordon Ramsay says clubs will still be able to support sporting organisations, but will pay an extra portion on top to the Chief Minister's Charitable Fund.

ACT Gaming minister Gordon Ramsay says clubs will still be able to support sporting organisations, but will pay an extra portion on top to the Chief Minister's Charitable Fund. Credit:Karleen Minney

Clubs are legally required to pay at least 8 per cent of their net gaming revenue as community contributions, although former ACT Auditor-General Dr Maxine Cooper found clubs had "considerable flexibility" in how they interpreted the rules. 

Her in-depth audit of 10 clubs' community contributions found inadequate explanations of how the money was benefiting the community, with vague explanations such as "Bunnings", "wine club" or "van fuel".

One club claimed $243 for presentation-night balloons and a $700 mobile phone for a staff member as a community contribution.

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ACT Gaming Minister Gordon Ramsay said it was clear the community "needs more, rather than less" out of the community contributions scheme.

"We will be looking to increase the required amount of contribution, and a portion of that additional amount will go to the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund to ensure funding is available to even more community groups," Mr Ramsay said.

Mr Ramsay said clubs would still be able to support local sporting groups and community organisations with their community contributions,  but the rules around what counted as a community contribution would be tightened to ensure funds were being spent legitimately.

“The government will also be considering changes to improve the transparency of payments made under the scheme, and particularly to make it easier for the public to see who has received community contribution funds," Mr Ramsay said.

Mr Ramsay said the community contributions scheme would be overhauled by the end of the year.

He said the changes would be informed by "careful consideration of what the objectives of the scheme are, and who it should benefit".

"We must seriously consider whether sports clubs paying for their own operating costs would be better funded by revenue from outside the amount dedicated to supporting the community," Mr Ramsay said.

Last month, the ACT government's liquor, racing and gaming arm proposed a new model of community contributions where some or all of the money was collected in a central fund and doled out via an independent body.

ClubsACT chief executive Gwyn Rees blasted the proposal as a cash grab that would hurt clubs that were already trying to do more with less.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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