Monday 6. June, 2016

AFL Clubs Claim Pokie Revenue is Helping the Community

An investigation by the Sun Herald has revealed that AFL clubs in Victoria are using revenue from their poker machines to pay for expenses, while claiming the money is being used to help the community.

Up to $50 million has been claimed as community benefits over the past three years, in what anti-gambling advocates are labelling a “rort” of the system. In fact, it appears that this money is coming from huge losses to gamblers at the AFL’s clubs and the money is going towards renovations of clubrooms, stadiums and spas, as well as to paying staff wages and running club events. $33 million was spent on the running costs of seventeen pokies venues.

“They’re just gaming the system all the way to the bank,” said gambling expert Dr Charles Livingstone from Monash University.

“They get a tax holiday because they exist. It’s nonsense.”

According to regulations in Victoria, hotels are required to pay one third of their gambling revenue as taxes, while non-profit community clubs, under which banner the AFL clubs belong, pay around one quarter of their gambling revenue in taxes. In addition, clubs are required to spend 8.33 percent of their revenue from gambling, on “community benefits.”

However, Dr Livingstone argues that the clubs are clearly using this money on themselves, as opposed to on the community. While the state government is undertaking a major review of poker machines in Victoria, they are being pressured to get rid of the generous tax break offered to clubs. Taking this a step further, VicHealth suggested that an independent body should be set up to pass on pokie revenue to “evidence-based community programs.”

North Melbourne is the only AFL club in Victoria that does not operate a pokies venue.

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