Thursday 10. March, 2016

Darwin Sailing Club Dumps its Pokies

The Darwin Sailing Club has sent all ten of its poker machines to the local wrecking yard after making the decision to close its gaming room permanently. The club has operated old-style poker machines since 1985, but decided to remove them amid significant support from its members.

The decision came after a six-month process with Northern Territory gaming license authorities. The club surveyed their 1,000 members last year and was overwhelmed by the response.

“Overwhelmingly, people were in support of the idea of using [the gaming room] for something not related to pokies,” said John Melenewycz, manager of the club.

“There was nobody out of the 1,000 people who argued to keep them.”

Last year, punters in the Northern Territory lost more than $80 million on poker machines in pubs and clubs, up 20 percent from the previous year. Another $79.2 million was lost by NT punters at the two casinos. The NT government last year increased the maximum number of machines that can be operated by a single venue and the decision by the Sailing Club comes at a time when many clubs are installing more machines.

Mr Melenewycz said the decision for the club to remove its pokies was economic, as well as an attempt to bring the club’s services more in line with its “core mission” of sailing and hospitality.

“Gaming has never really fit into that,” he explained.

“And given the relatively poor performance of the gaming room, the decision was taken to re-use this space more effectively.”

The pokies at the Sailing Club brought in around $25,000 last year; however after overheads of electricity, staff and insurance, the results made keeping the machines less worthwhile. After investigating the options of selling, storing or destroying the machines, the opted for the latter.

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