Monday, 19 October 2009

Ballarat Pokie Clubs

There are 7 pokie clubs in the City of Ballarat. In the 2008/2009 fiscal year, Ballarat gamblers lost $26.7 million at these 7 clubs. I don't believe that the Ballarat community got back $26.7 million worth of benefit as a result of these pokie clubs.

Here's a list of those Ballarat pokie clubs with the amount lost on its pokies. Each mention is a link to the page where you can read details of each club. As always, these web pages allows the reader to anonymously post whatever they like - or - correct or add any information. I've included only those venues that continue to operate as pokie clubs.
Having figured out how much gamblers poured into these pokie clubs, the next step was to figure out how much these clubs returned to the community. To do this I had a look at the Community Benefit Statements each of these pokie clubs lodged with the gambling commission. The findings are summarised in a short spreadsheet. Click on the image below to have a look:It's important to remember that each club is allowed to claim, as a community benefit, the costs of running its own operation. So when you look at the detail, for example, of the Sebastopol Bowling Club, you find claims for the green upkeep or the near $55 thousand spent upon new furniture in their member's lounge.

In fact, the real cash contribution to the Ballarat community beyond operating each club's related sporting clubs or its own facilities is quite small in comparison to the pokie club losses. My estimate is that it could be less than $3,000.

That's not good value for $26.7 million gambled and lost.

What's worse? There seems to be money left over. Have a look at the table and the column titled balence for a very rough estimate of the difference between what is claimed for community benefit (remember that includes the cost of running the club itself) and the clubs share of the pokie losses. While the golf clubs and the RSL appear to run at a loss, others have a lot left over to plough back into the Ballarat community.

What's even worse? None of these pokie clubs have publicly stated that they will implement the National Principles for the conduct of responsible gaming machine activity in clubs and hotels.

I spoke to Cr Hudson and City of Ballarat staff on 13 October and will report upon what I suggested in the next blog.


David said...

Hi! Very interesting reading. Sorry for being a bit stupid, but I don't fully understand the table. I hope I can ask you some questions if that's alright. Or maybe point me in the right direction.

How does it work? Do the golf courses buy the pokies or rent them? What are the costs to the golf club? Say per pokie? Do the golf course get all the money, or do they get a percentage of what people have put in? Who pays the winnings? You were mentioning financing costs and operational costs. Is that directly linked to the pokies?

A lot of questions, I know. Sorry! Happy to get any answer.

All the best,

PokieWatch said...

How does it work? At present, in Victoria, pokie clubs enter into a commercial arrangement with either Tattersall's or Tabcorp who own the pokies. I am not privy to all of the terms of these commercial arrangements between the pokie clubs and their respective pokie operators.

Victorian legislation states that club venue operators receive 33% of the pokie losses incurred at their club as revenue. From this, and other revenue (e.g. meals, alcohol, membership fees), the club conducts their business.

I hope the above answers your questions.