Victorian government accused of blocking pokie-free club push

September 13, 2022
Aleney De Winter

Victorian clubs wanting to move away from pokies by divesting lucrative long-term licences have hit a wall.

The State Government, which locked clubs into two-decade deals on the licences back in 2018, was heavily criticised at the time due to the requirement of upfront payments.

With a growing movement amongst AFL and RSL clubs to re-evaluate their reliance on gaming revenue, despite the revenue they raise, several clubs are working on scaling back poker machines.

But clubs, such as St Kilda Football Club, which is eager to shift from operating an electronic gaming machine venue, are facing resistance from the Andrews government with the 20-year licences kicking in, and the first payments to the government due in November.

The government expects to raise as much as $1.2 billion in revenue annually through electronic gaming machine ­licence fees and taxes.

But following payouts of $2.237 billion through poker machines across Victoria last financial year, Tim Costello, spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, suggested that holding clubs back from ending their poker machine licences is socially irresponsible. He believes the government should support buyback schemes for those wanting to remove the machines.

However, a spokesman for the government said that venues were aware of the financial commitments for purchasing entitlements before participating in the allocation process.


gaming, Pokie-Free, Victorian Government

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