Clubs ACT has run into financial trouble, is looking to cut spending, and has gone cap in hand to the city's big clubs to pay membership fees early to tide it over.
The industry group spent $240,000 fighting Labor's plans to allow poker machines in the casino during last year's election campaign, including donating $185,000 to Richard Farmer's failed election bid.
The money was borrowed from its sister organisation in NSW, Clubs NSW. Clubs ACT planned to pay back the loan back by selling its Deakin building, but an offer for the building has fallen through. The loan must be paid off next year.
Now, the group has gone to the city's big clubs and asked them to pay some of their 2017-18 membership fees early.
Clubs ACT president Athol Chalmers said the clubs group had been under financial strain as a result of the campaign spend. As its new president, he had commissioned an audit to find savings so they could "run a bit leaner", and to boost income.
He wouldn't discuss savings, but said options would go to the board on Thursday night, March 16.
"The organisation did spend a lot of money last year on the campaign. It put the finances under a bit of pressure," he said. But there was "no question about solvency".
"The organisation's certain solid and I think there's a sustainable future," Mr Chalmers said.
The clubs not only failed to stop poker machines in the casino, but the election of two Greens has strengthened calls for stronger action on poker machines in clubs. In their power-sharing agreement, Labor and the Greens agreed to cut the number of poker machines across the city by almost 1000, to 4000 machines by July 2020.
Labor has also agreed to "explore" bet limits for poker machines and will make changes to the clubs community grants scheme with the aim of sending more money to community groups rather than simply to the clubs' sporting codes.
Mr Chalmers has been putting together a club position on the changes and expects to begin talks with the government this month or next. He would not discuss the clubs' stance on specific changes.
"We'll do our best to work productivity with the government," he said. "We take a constructive, collaborative approach."
Mr Chalmers is head of the Burns Club, one of three influential groups that disaffiliated with Clubs ACT last year. The other two were the construction union's Tradies clubs and the Labor Party owned Labor clubs. The Woden Tradies has come back to the fold, with its head, Rob Docker, made vice-president.
But the Dickson Tradies and the Labor club group both remain outside Clubs ACT. Mr Chalmers is working to persuade them back.
One of the biggest clubs in town is the Southern Cross Club, whose chief executive, Ian Mackay, did not want to discuss Clubs ACT's financial struggles, but said as a supporter of the group the Southern Cross Club had been happy to make the forward payment of some of its 2017-18 fees.