Thursday, 28 January 2010

Manningham Money Madness

The purpose of the Community Benefit Statement is to provide the public with a comprehensive view of how pokie money is spent by clubs to benefit the community. Remember that clubs enjoy a reduced pokie tax rate so that all Victorians have an interest in the boost-up given to pokie clubs. The law also requires that if they don't spend the money on the community then pokie club has to pay any shortfall in tax to the Victorian government. Unfortunately, "inconsistent" and "inexplicable" are the words I would use to describe the story set out in the Community Benefit Statements lodged for The Manningham Club.

The intent of this blog and the next PokieAct blog is to have a detailed look at the public records as well as posting relevant extracts.

To begin with, let's look at how much money has been lost on the pokies at the Manningham Club:
2005/06 pokie losses were $6,923,561 at $69,236 per pokie
2006/07 pokie losses were $7,278,951 at $72,790 per pokie
2007/08 pokie losses were $6,578,314 at $65,783 per pokie
2008/09 pokie losses were $6,790,120 at $67,901 per pokie
For the first 6 months of this fiscal year, the pokie losses at the Manningham were $3,284,907. That's a lot of money taken out of the local Manningham community. What did we get for it?

It is important to bear in mind that the Victorian government considers that the existence of the club itself to be a public benefit. Betty Con Walker in her book called Casino Clubs NSW expresses the concept well:
"...money spent on wages and salaries is a 'community contribution'. Ordinary businesses would regard that spending as an 'expense'"
So let's look at the wages item. Given our statewide subsidy, clubs employing people is a community benefit we all somehow share in.
2004 - 1,094,388
2005 - 1,034,021
2006 - 1,030,702
2007 - 1,031,477
2008 - 873,667
2009 - 396,949
It seems that wages have dramatically dropped without correlation to pokie revenue. It is only a guess but I would have thought that the management fee for running these pokies was included in this number. It could be that Woolies associate has taken over the staffing and that the remaining number represents their management fee.

Whatever it is, the public benefit of the Manningham Club employing Victorians is not significant.

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