Proposed gaming ban threatens Queenscliff Club’s existence

July 6, 2021
Grant Jones

 
An LGA (Local Government Area) covering just 10.83 square kilometres and with a population of about 3,000 people is proposing to ban poker machines on land it owns, threatening the existence of its sole registered club tenant. 

As part of an updated draft policy being considered by Borough of Queenscliffe, in south-west Victoria, Council proposes it will not lease facilities to operators with gambling facilities – which would include EGMs in a club.

It directly relates to Queenscliff Bowling, Tennis and Croquet Club, which has all 30 EGMs in the Borough. The Club, which employs about a dozen staff, reported but an overall loss of $11,251. The club leases the land from council for $94,909pa. 

“Council will not lease or license its facilities where they will be used for gambling purposes, other than activities such as ‘bingo nights’ where the amounts of funding are notional and where loss would not lead to distress,” the Borough proposal says. “Where historical lease arrangements have allowed gambling, leases will not be renewed on expiration if gambling is to continue.”

Club chairman Bob Merriman was reportedly mystified by the proposal as the not-for-profit Club was not consulted before the motion appeared as part of the council meeting.

The Club’s lease, approved by the Victorian Government and signed off by council, is not up for renewal until 2057, with the earliest review available in 2037. 

The updated policy was considered during a council meeting in late June, but councillors resolved to defer its adoption and undertake further community consultation. 

Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation data shows the Borough of Queenscliffe has 12 EGMs for every 1000 adults, compared to five per 1000 adults across Victoria in 2019-20. But those numbers do not take into account visitor numbers from both Geelong, Melbourne and the ferry service from Sorrento to the popular borough.

The Queenscliffe move follows the Geelong Football Club’s exit from all gaming and gambling-based activity after the Club agreed to terms to sell The Brook in Point Cook, which held 80 EGMs, to Melbourne Racing Club. The deal was finalised earlier this year. 

The Melbourne Racing Club also bought licences for Club Leeds in Footscray and the Peninsula Club in Dromana – which hold 65 EGMs between them – from the Western Bulldogs.

In December last year, Manningham Council in Melbourne’s east bought the Templestowe RSL Club for $1.25 million, on the proviso it would lease the Club back to the RSL for 20 years on condition it prohibits the operation of EGMs.


Tags

council land, EGM ban, gaming ban


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