Blues top pokies ladder as punters lose $19m

Date October 7, 2013

Craig Butt and Richard Willingham

Carlton has finished top of the pokies losses ladder with punters dropping
$19 million at the club's four venues, as total losses at Victorian AFL
club-owned venues reached more than $85 million last year.

But losses at football club-owned venues dropped 12.2 per cent from nearly
$97 million in 2011-12, a larger decrease than the rest of the state which
saw pokies losses drop by 7.1 per cent to nearly $2.5 billion over that

Essendon, Collingwood and Hawthorn rounded out the top four of largest
pokies losses.

Analysis by The Age of punter losses at pokies venues in the state that
were active in the past financial year found that losses at the venues
owned by nine Victorian clubs - North Melbourne is the only club without
poker machines - totalled $85,102,284.

Victorian clubs own 18 gaming venues, with 1317 machines. There are 27,760
poker machines in Victoria, excluding the Casino, at 523 venues. Carlton
owns 300 machines in four venues, where punters lost $19.1 million last
financial year. At Collingwood, punters lost $13.2 million, at Essendon it
was $11.9 million and at Hawthorn $11.3 million.

Collingwood had the biggest drop in pokies losses at its venues over the
past year, with a 25.4 per cent decrease. The International Hotel in
Lilydale, which was owned by the club and raked in $3.3 million from 80
machines in 2011-12, closed in July 2012.

Since July 2012 ATMs have been banned in pokies venues by the state

Losses at football club venues accounted for 3 per cent of nearly $2.5
billion worth of pokies losses across the state in 2012-13.

Anti-pokies campaigner Tim Costello said AFL clubs needed to end their
relationship with poker machines.

''I welcome the publishing of the real AFL ladder. AFL clubs boast of
their community support and what they put back; this tells you what they
are taking out in terms of the cost to families, businesses and crime in
the community,'' Mr Costello said.

''I think the AFL clubs should bite the bullet. Forty per cent of that
revenue comes from addicted people.''

Public health and gambling expert Associate Professor Samantha Thomas said
sporting bodies needed to step up to help battle pokies-related harm.

''Sports clubs have an incredibly influential role in communities and
there are really good examples of clubs having positive impacts on the
health of the community,'' Dr Thomas said.

''But when sports organisations align themselves with potentially harmful
products, whether it be junk food or alcohol or gambling, then they need
to engage to be part of the solution in tackling these important public
health issues.''

Greens gambling and sports spokesman Richard Di Natale said despite the
good work of the AFL in indigenous and multiculturalism and physical
health, it had dropped the ball on pokies.

Nearly half of the losses on poker machines at football club-owned venues
were in three municipalities - Monash, Melton and Hobsons Bay - which
between them house six venues.

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