Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Who runs The Rex?

Cr Janet Bolitho of the City of Port Phillip asked me to explain who actually owns The Rex pokie club. It's complicated. It involves Woolworths Limited. While legal, my view is that it inappropriately exploits Victorian pokie laws.

Let's start at the ground floor. Who owns the land? Here's a reproduction of a title search from 6 January 2010:
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 footy club has a lease for the whole or part of the building. I wonder if it includes the TAB or is the income from this part of The Rex reserved for the Woolworths / Mathieson joint venture?

The Rex 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. Port Melbourne Football 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 The Rex, 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 Port Melbourne Football 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 Rex - Port Melbourne is on the list of ALH's venues. Inside the venue the business cards reflects that list:It is reasonable to draw the conclusion that The Rex is run by Woolworths/Mathieson and that by virtue of their 75% control Woolworths is responsible for the day to day running of this pokie club.

Woolworths is also responsible for allowing unaccompanied children inside this gambling venue.

So is Mr Luscombe.

So is Mr Strong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Paul. If the business card has to be deleted for the trademark concerns, perhaps the same point can be made by linking to the website for The Rex Hotel Port Melbourne where the alhgroup is used in the email address, then the card image can be deleted if that is causing alh a concern(per your later blog posts)