Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Who runs the Vic Inn?

If you read yesterday's blog about The Rex, you are about to get a 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 title search from 2 March 2009: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 Vic Inn reserved for the Woolworths / Mathieson joint venture?

The Vic Inn 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. Footscray 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 Vic Inn, 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 Footscray 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 Victoria Inn Williamstown is on the list of ALH's venues.

But there's more. Recorded in the Victorian Gambling Commission's report of the Footscray Football Club's application for pokies at Club Edgewater is this paragraph:
This finding states that the Footscray FC has a lease over the Vic Inn. The guess is that the landlord is Woolworths.
"At present it provides between $150,000 and $200,000 in profit annually."
Woolworths are the pokie people.

The next blog has a look at these two Woolworths associated pokie clubs and their corresponding community benefit statements to see if we can figure out where at least some of the money is going.

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