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Gambling, Government VIC

Vic Clubs give 77% of ‘community’ grants to themselves – Rorting of loophole makes mockery of benefits scheme

Alliance for Gambling Reform 3 mins read

Clubs across Victoria are rorting a scheme, which aims to offset the financial harm of pokies, by giving an average of 77% of all the ‘community’ grants’ they make to themselves.

The rorting means they are not only robbing the community of critical funding but also receiving a tax deduction by doing so.

New analysis released by the Alliance for Gambling Reform shows that of all the grants provided by Victorian clubs with poker machines last financial year more than 77% (or $241.7m out of $311.6m) were spent on funding their own operations including staff wages, staff meals, beer gas, venue decorations, security, pay TV subscriptions, accounting, legal fees, council rates, pest control, trophies and prizes for members.

Under the Victorian Community Benefits Scheme clubs (but not hotels) can claim a tax deduction of 8.33% by verifying that they have provided at least 8.33% of their net gaming revenue back to the community in the forms prescribed under the Scheme which separates the benefits into Class A, B and C. Class B benefits are broadly defined as operating costs along with capital expenditure.

“The results show that of the 230 clubs participating in the scheme in 2022/23 - including many RSLs, golf clubs, country clubs and bowls clubs - they granted themselves and their members more than 77% of these benefits and are getting a tax subsidy to boot,” The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Interim CEO, Martin Thomas, said.
“Across Victoria last financial year people lost more than $3b to poker machines. Clubs with poker machines reap extraordinary profits on the back of the community harm these machines wreak and now we find out even the fraction of income they ‘give back’ is also being rorted.”

Mr Thomas said the scheme was clearly not working as it had intended and it was time it was scrapped.

Among the biggest clubs that were awarding themselves the largest number of grants were:

  • Amstel Golf Club in Cranbourne - $6.7m
  • Veneto Club in Bulleen - $4.8m
  • Bendigo Stadium – $4.6m
  • Morwell Bowling Club - $4.1m
  • Frankston RSL - $4m
  • Geelong Combined Leagues Club - $3.7m
  • Rosebud Country Club - $3.5m
  • Rosebud RSL - $3.3m
  • Mulgrave Country Club - $3.2m
  • Kooringal Golf Club in Altona - $2.8m

Mr Thomas said poker machine reform was consistently resisted by the industry which cited the community benefit that clubs offer through this grants scheme.

“The reality is the damage they are causing our communities far outweighs any good they are doing.”

Mr Thomas said there needed to be more progress on the reform agenda announced by the Victorian Government almost 12 months ago now as well as a commitment to implement the recommendations of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee Inquiry, held last year which investigated the way gambling was regulated in Victoria and what changes were needed to reduce harm from gambling.

“The government must get on with a response to stem the losses in Victoria which are again predicted to top $3 billion in the current financial year, as well as implement the year-long commitment to a mandatory pre-commitment card with binding and default limits in pubs and clubs around the State” he said.
“We know from the evidence including the Royal Commission into Crown Casino that only through such a system can we really prevent gambling harm, but we also need to make sure that a fair amount of the money ripped out of the communities pockets by this harmful industry is actually collected by the Government and spent on looking after those who need help.”

At $25 billion in losses per year, Australia continues to be the world’s biggest loser with the highest per capita spend.

These losses are disproportionately experienced by the people who can least afford it: people living with financial and other forms of stress, women and children experiencing family violence and people with mental health issues problems.

Martin Thomas is available for interview on 0477 340 704 

 


Key Facts:

Among the biggest clubs that were awarding themselves the largest number of grants were:

  • Amstel Golf Club in Cranbourne - $6.7m
  • Veneto Club in Bulleen - $4.8m
  • Bendigo Stadium – $4.6m
  • Morwell Bowling Club - $4.1m
  • Frankston RSL - $4m
  • Geelong Combined Leagues Club - $3.7m
  • Rosebud Country Club - $3.5m
  • Rosebud RSL - $3.3m
  • Mulgrave Country Club - $3.2m
  • Kooringal Golf Club in Altona - $2.8m

About us:

The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of preventing harm from gambling.


Contact details:

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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