Revealed: The true cost of AFL clubs ditching pokies


AFL sides Melbourne and Collingwood will each sacrifice annual earnings of over $10 million when they ditch their poker machines.

A report released by Victoria’s peak gambling regulator on Friday showed that gamblers lost over $10 million in the last financial year on gaming machines owned by the Melbourne Football Club. Pokies owned by the Collingwood Football Club raked in a whopping $13.2 million during that same period.

Those earnings, revealed by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation on Friday, will be the Magpies’ last from pokies. The club announced their “complete and immediate exit from the gaming industry” in July of this year when they agreed to sell their two venues to the Melbourne Racing Club.

“This is a prudent commercial decision, one that will strengthen the Collingwood balance sheet significantly,” Collingwood Football Club President Eddie McGuire said in the statement.

“The decision of the board to sell our gaming operation and some of our hospitality interests will allow us to intensify the focus on our core responsibilities – Collingwood fans, elite sporting performance and community – but also enable us to pursue new and different possibilities for growth.”

Collingwood President Eddie McGuire announced his club’s immediate exit from the gaming industry in July. PHOTO SOURCE: ABC

The Demons have also recently completed the sale of the Leighoak Club in Oakleigh, a venue in which gamblers lost over $7.7 million in the last year. The club announced that it will forgo its 88 gaming machines at the Bentleigh Club when the licence expires in 2022, which will signal their complete exit from the gaming industry.

“The announcement to exit the gaming industry is a significant day for the Melbourne Football Club. Gaming isn’t our core business and whilst it has been a financial imperative to operate within this space in the past, we feel the time was right to take action to exit the industry,” Melbourne Football Club Chairman Glen Bartlett said in a statement.

“The club is in the strongest financial position it has ever been in, and with the support of our members, we are well placed to grow football-related income and to re-focus our business to make the transition from our reliance on gaming to ensure that we are financially strong and stable for our next generation of members.”

Although Melbourne and Collingwood have announced they will be selling off their gaming machines, a number of other Victorian AFL clubs continue to enjoy healthy profits from pokies, and many show no signs of giving them up any time soon.

Hawthorn Football Club was revealed as the AFL club that raised the most money in the last year from pokies, with the total amount lost by gamblers at its venues exceeding $24 million. The revenue raised at their two locations, the WestWaters Hotel in Caroline Springs and Vegas at Waverly Gardens, is roughly a million dollars more than the club raised last year.

24 million dollars of revenue from pokies has put Hawthorn on top of a different ladder. PHOTO SOURCE: ABC

The next closest earner to Hawthorn was the Carlton Football Club, which generated over $18 million in revenue from gambler’s losses in the last 12 months.

The other Victorian clubs still profiting off gaming machines are Essendon, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, and St Kilda. The Age reported on July 9 that Essendon, which earned $11.6 million through gaming machines in the last year, was negotiating to extend its lease to operate pokies in Melton through until 2042.

The only Victorian club not to own and operate pokies in the last year was North Melbourne, which still recorded a profit in 2017. The club stopped operating gaming machines in 2008.

West Coast, Gold Coast, Sydney, Adelaide, Fremantle, and GWS disclosed no earnings from the gaming industry in their most recent annual financial reports.




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