Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Who runs the Manningham Club?

If you read recent blogs about The Rex and Vic Inn Williamstown, you are about to get a renewed sense of that you have been here somewhere before.

Let's start at the ground floor. Who owns the land? Here's a reproduction of a recent title search:The land is owned by a company called ALH Group Properties Holdings Limited. This company is noted on page 139 of the Woolworths annual report as being part of the ALH Group. ALH is reported as the name of the venture 75% owned by Woolworths and 25% owned by Bruce Mathieson's associated interests.

There is a mortgage on the land granted in favour of Woolworths Limited.

It is pure speculation whether the Manningham Club has a lease for the whole or part of the building. I wonder if it includes the TAB, motel units, the Brisbane Lions office or the BWS outlet? It may be limited to the pokie area. It may be that the club has no reason for its existence other than to operate these pokies.

The Manningham Club is a club license. This means that the venue operator does not have to pay 8 1/3% Community Benefit Fund tax. There is also favourable terms relating to pokie entitlements under the new Gambling Regulations. The Manningham Club Ltd is the venue operator. Had Woolworths, ALH or some other 'for profit' company been the venue operator, the Community Benefit Fund tax would have been payable. As a result, the pokie cash flow is improved. This improved cash flow could be available to the club, lease payments for the land or management fees for running the pokie operations.

To see all the parties associated with Manningham Club Ltd, you need to search the Victorian Gambling Commission records. Here's the screen capture of the search taken today: Click on the image and you see a list of Woolworths' directors including chairman James Strong and CEO, Michael Luscombe. Remember Mr Luscombe wants to transform their venues into "centres of family entertainment". But the venue operator is Manningham Club Ltd!

This is where it gets confusing. Click here to have a look at ALH's own published list of their Victorian venues. The screen shot is below. You'll have to click on the image to read it.Please be assured that Manningham Hotel and Club is on the list of ALH's venues. Is the Manningham Club a 75% run Woolworths operation?

The Community Benefit tax concession provided to the Manningham Club is intended to recognise that clubs operate for the benefit of the community. It seems to be the reverse in this instance as the club is utilising other local clubs to build its membership and presumably its pokie take. Have a look at this screen capture taken from the Bulleen Templestowe Basketball Club Inc.Small clubs soliciting their members to join a pokie club? Note this critical sentance:
"Every dollar spent at the Manningham Club earns points that entitles our Club to financial benefits."
What exactly are the financial benefits to the Bulleen Templestowe Basketball Club that is being promoted? Do they get some portion of the pokie take?

Does Woolworths need to use small local clubs to build their pokie take? Is this the building of "centres of family entertainment" that is Michael Luscombe's goal?

This is pokie management madness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very Good work Paul. Your forensic approach to this subject is absolutely brilliant.