I read this short article about our biggest local club, Albury Commercial Club, of which I am a member.
The club made a profit of nearly $3 million in the 2010-11 financial year. This was more than forecast, and allowed the club to eliminate bank debt. A good news story!
Then we find a spray against the federal government attempts to curb poker machine use.
“We cannot let this happen and the club industry is working extremely hard to make sure it doesn’t,’’ Mr Edmunds [board president] says in a report to the 26,275 members.
“The repercussions would be devastating.”
The CEO, Bruce Duck, agrees.
Members, via the media would be well aware of the problems facing
the club industry in May 2012 when the Federal Government has
given an agreement for the introduction of mandatory pre commitment
for poker machine players. This will be costly to introduce, will result
in large income deficits and will end the social structure of clubs we
currently enjoy, like most in the hospitality industry. I hope and pray
commonsense will prevail and we are allowed to continue to enjoy our
Club as we have in the past.
(This quotation is from the annual report to members – the last sentence of it appears in the newspaper article.)
How over the top. ‘Devastating’ and ‘end the social structure of clubs’ signal serious danger. Don’t they? Are these folk really interested in what’s dangerous? How about the danger – or even simply the financial cost – to a single family ripped apart by gambling addiction. Why is there no mention of this risk in the annual report?
It sounds like unalloyed self-interest.
I decided to look at the figures, since I was already reading the annual report.
- Total income, $35,954,883.76
- Donations to worthwhile causes (phrase from Mr Edmonds’ report), $476,066.16
This is 1.3% of total income
It is a 12.5% increase on the previous financial year
- Poker machine income $26,752,597.99
This is an increase of 7.5% over the previous financial year
- Other expenses, to compare with ‘worthwhile causes’
Promotions – Zodiac gold & members $1,186,127.20
Entertainment of members, happy hours, etc $918,476.00
Members’ lucky draw $421,858.96
Poker machine duty $9.087.586
My conclusion is that the club is doing well financially, yet its community contribution is marginal. It’s a business, a not-for-profit business, whose prime concern is financial liquidity. To the extent that there is community-building, this is a function of the people involved (in their sporting clubs, etc), as well as a little money going to good causes. Equally, however, the dedicated commitment to retaining pokie revenue is community-breaking.
When the Commercial Club board speaks against regulating the pokie industry, they do not speak for me.