Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Who Runs The Royal Oak?

Woolworths' electronic division Dick Smith is the Tigers chief sponsor. Might there be a connection between Woolies and the management of pokies at the Tiger's Royal Oak pokie club?The logo of the Richmond Tigers footy club is upfront on the web site of the Royal Oak Hotel in Richmond. Here comes that feeling of deja vu yet again.

Let's start at the ground floor. Who owns the land? Here's a reproduction of a title search from 22 February 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.

The Royal Oak 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. Richmond 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 Royal Oak, 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, mixed in the Richmond's Gary March. Isn't the venue operator the Richmond Football Club Ltd?? Stephen Wright is still there although Brendon Gale replaced him in August 2009. Maybe it's time to update Tigers' gambling commission records.

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.Looks like the Woolworths' associate ALH is representing that "Our Venues" includes the Royal Oak and that it's running this pokie club.

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