tip off

Transparency please! Why the tax breaks for pokies clubs?

Has there ever been a more self-serving public campaign than the one being mounted by Clubs Australia?

Clubs have long justified their gaming activities due to their value to the community. As Clubs Australia’s website says on its home page: “Clubs are not-for-profit community-based organisations whose central activity is to provide infrastructure and services for the community.”

And if there’s one thing that hard-pressed Labor parliamentarians have been stressing, it is that they value the important services and benefits to their local communities that clubs provide.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland was spreading the message in his local electorate this week. “Clubs are a big employer and play an important role in the St George area as they do in many communities,” McClelland apparently told the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader. “I am a big supporter of clubs and I also support action to deal with problem gambling.”

McClelland even argued that clubs contribute to national security. “In my national security role, I think the support clubs give to sport is great for the community,” he told the Shire Leader’s Murray Trembath. “The Dragons team, for instance, brings together residents from different backgrounds into one cohesive mix.”

McClelland has since clarified his support for the government’s mandatory pre-commitment policy, but there are plenty of backbenchers in marginal electorates in NSW and Queensland feeling the heat.

But how seriously should we take the argument about the value of clubs to local communities? Not very. Clubs may have a legal structure as not-for-profit entities, but even a cursory glance at their operating activities and their financial statements shows they are essentially gaming operations with a philanthropic sideline.

A glance at the 2010 annual report of one of Australia’s largest clubs, the Panthers Group, shows how hollow the argument about community benefits really is. Panthers raked in $91.7 million from gaming in 2010, or 60% of its operating revenue. Against this, the amount Panthers spent back in its local community was relatively small: $617,000 in junior development, $2.9 million in member promotions, $1.4 million in donations, $698,000 in sponsorship, $2.4 million in artists and entertainment expenses for its members and $2.2 million in “other promotions”. Panthers also paid out $47 million in wages and employment benefits and paid the NSW government $28 million in poker machine tax. All told, the amount that Panthers could reasonably be said to be “returning to the community” still adds up to less than the amount it extracts from gamblers.

Or examine the Rooty Hill RSL, also in Sydney’s western suburbs. Its 2010 annual report features a prominent drop quote from none other than Donald Trump: “As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.” The club is certainly thinking big when it comes to poker machines: it enjoys “Australia’s largest non-casino installation of electronic gaming machines” with an amazing 726 gaming machine licences. Poker machines raked in $43.2 million of the club’s total operating revenue of $64.7 million — a neat two-thirds of its revenue. Against this, the club spent $5.7 million on entertainment, marketing and promotional costs, $1.8 million on members amenities and a miserly $601,000 on donations. $13.1 million was paid out in poker machine taxes and wages and staff costs accounted for $18.6 million, but the club was still able to record a healthy operating surplus of $5.2 million for its 2010 financial year.

For some clubs, the equation is even more imbalanced. In McClelland’s own electorate, poker machine revenue accounts for an amazing 81% of the St George Leagues Club’s total operating revenue of $39 million. Only $3.3 million found its way back to what the club calls “football clubs and community development and support” expenditure.

Clubs have of course long enjoyed support from local sporting communities. But these days the gambling seems to be taking over the sport. Perhaps that’s because gambling represents an ever-increasing share of many football club revenues. If you watch football in 2011, it’s hard to escape the hard sell pushed by the gaming and betting industry. The AFL club St Kilda  is sponsored by Centrebet to the tune of millions (how much is not disclosed), while Hawthorn makes $4.6 million a year, or about 20% of its revenue, from pokies — only $300,000 less than it makes from its match day receipts.

The pokies push by big sporting clubs is nothing if not brazen. Fairfax’s Phil Lutton has a fine piece of long-form reportage in the Brisbane Times today about the Brisbane Lions’ new social club, called LIONS@Springwood, located in Brisbane’s southern mortgage belt of Logan. It’s an elegant exploration of the reality behind the debate about poker machines and clubs. “It’s exceedingly clear what the owners see as the biggest selling point,” he wrote. “As you drive towards the car park, the signs declare you are entering a promised land of ‘200 pokies’. Just in case you missed it, the message is repeated in bold lettering on the club’s facade.”

Let’s remind ourselves that the Productivity Commission has already examined the beneficial aspects of gambling in clubs in some detail. An entire chapter of the 2010 gambling inquiry report is devoted to assessing them. The Productivity Commission found the “claimed benefits of gambling revenue on sporting activities and volunteering do not appear strong” and that “the [gross] value of social contributions by clubs is likely to be significantly less than the support governments provides to clubs through tax and other concessions”. In other words: far from clubs subsidising the community, the rest of the community is subsidising clubs

It’s true that clubs do spend considerable sums on sporting and recreation facilities in local communities. But are they necessarily the best organisations to perform this community service? As the Productivity Commission notes: “Even if it were accepted that clubs might have superior local knowledge about where to spend money for sport and recreation, the conventional government outsourcing model when hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake would involve appropriate budgetary controls, public scrutiny and transparency.”

The Rooty Hill RSL featured in the 2010 election campaign with a leader’s forum in which citizens were able to ask questions of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, but perhaps its time our nation’s leaders started to ask some hard questions of the clubs industry

First and foremost among these should be this: why should clubs that are essentially medium-sized suburban casinos continue to pay no company tax as “not-for-profit” entities, and their substantial tax concessions on gaming taxes compared to commercial bars and hotels?

The clubs lobby has opened up a broad front in its assault on government policy. Perhaps its time the government and the community demanded some extra transparency and scrutiny from clubs themselves, in the form of an inquiry into whether large clubs with hundreds of poker machines should be stripped of their tax-exempt status.

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  • 1
    SusieQ
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article about the ‘footy tax’. I love my footy as much as the next person, but Eddie kicked out of bounds on the full with this one. The clubs have become too reliant on the revenue stream from gambling, which is very sad. For all the people able to set a limit, there are many who can’t.
    I hope to see more stories like this.

  • 2
    Dean Moriarty's Ghost
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just the big clubs like Panthers and Rooty Hill RSL that are self serving in their campaign against pre-commitment.

    As one of a small group of volunteers, I help run a very small bush cricket club serving a community of about 500 people. We struggle at times to field a side, struggle to maintain financial viability and struggle to maintain our ground to a decent standard. For all the obstacles, we achieve these things and love what we do. We would be among the last people to knock back a grant or donation from a Clubs NSW member to help things along.

    So it has been with some incredulity that we’ve followed Clubs Australia’s campaign, noting in particular the claim that their members provide what would be by our standards; rivers of gold to local sporting clubs.

    One of the bigger clubs in our area is the Merimbula RSL Club who helpfully publish their financial statements on their website. They also helpfully provide banners and other links to the Clubs NSW anti pre-commitment campaign.

    According to Merimbula RSL’s 2010 financial statement, the club’s revenue was $10.1 million. Of this, a tad over $5 million was revenue from pokies. Of this, $2.45 million was pre-tax profit. And what does the financial statement say they gave to the local community by way of grants and donations which are so reliant on pokie revenues? Nothing!

  • 3
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Nice piece Ben.

    The clubs in NSW feed a legion of seriously overpaid executives - not all of them - but the huge operations. And feed a lot more besides given the murky depths from which poker machines originate. Few of these blokes would ever get a position in the real world but rely on parish pump politics and their mates to stay in their lucrative sinecures. And they know it.
    But they also can claim to have a huge political clout and the challenge will be a major one for the sweaty-palmers in the Government.
    It is a pity that the proposed remedy is so complex and ponderous. A nice simple reduction in the number and availability of pokies with time limits for sessions to one hour a night might have done much of the job I suspect.
    They still would have howled of course - they always would - but it would be a simple remedy for a problem that everyone recognises in their communities.
    The Government needs some hard-hitting personal story ads to counter this self-interested campaign. And quickly.

  • 4
    mg57
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I am heartily sick of the unsubstantiated claims that these big clubs “give back to the community”. Rubbish! I’ve been involved in two local sporting clubs in my area for 15 years, one a soccer club and the other a baseball club, and for years we sought assistance from a couple of local clubs. There were major strings attached and the best they would do was around $500 per year if we promoted them to our members and jumped through a number of other hoops.
    While I’m sure there’s some level of support out there (usually required by their charter and NFP status), as the article points out, this is a minuscule proportion of what these clubs earn from gambling. It’s about time that mainstream journos out there started asking the hard questions of these guys who are screaming about attempts to put a lid on the scourge of gambling that they promote.

  • 5
    SusieQ
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    More hardhitting stories and, as Peter Ormonde has said, some stories about those who have suffered with pokies addictions would be helpful (could I be extra cynical and say how about someone who lost all their money at one of the more prominent clubs).

  • 6
    oggy
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    To profit from the abject misery of the partners and children of the ‘problem’ gamblers is abominable,if this is what it takes for these Clubs to survive then I would rather they disappear.The total cost to the community of disintegrating families,social welfare commitments,medical interventions, antisocial/criminal acts all need to be factored in to the overall equation on the net negative impact to our community , of this particular gambling mode so the debate is rational. Maybe the Media can get of their fat ar.es and supply some meaningful figures to this issue,Crikey excepted of course as this article attempts to do.

  • 7
    Mark Lucas
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    As president of inner-western Sydney’s favourite pokie-free bowlo, Petersham Bowling Club, I can report that we’re painfully aware of the politics of this. As a true community club we are run by a board of volunteers who give their time freely & with enthusiasm. We are dedicated to preserving the open space & community amenity (the community took over in the first place in order to oust developers), & in 5 years or so, have turned an ailing club into a thriving community asset. We have a strong commitment to reducing our environmental footprint & we are also engaged in cementing our relationships with local sporting clubs based not on gambling income, but on shared enthusiasm & maintaining free access to the open space & other club facilities.

    That said- as little as a year or so ago when things were still looking very tough indeed, we soon found out where we stood in the eyes of the “peak industry body” & the traditional club world. We were having difficulty making ends meet but, despite being a small, well managed & largely self-sufficient club & carrying minimal debt, - it was made pretty clear to us that should we attempt to seek help from other local clubs we would be promptly swallowed up &, in time, redeveloped in order to improve their amenities. There was certainly no money available in the kitty to help support a genuine community asset.

    I’m therefore pleased to advise that we are, for the first time since we became pokie-free, quietly in the black at the end of the traditionally challenging winter months (largely on the back of an increasingly successful live music program). There’s still a tough road ahead but we don’t need to bleed the community to survive & we can give without taking. Time for a new business model folks- it can be done. http://www.thepbc.org.au

  • 8
    Mike M
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Not every club with pokies is a Taj Mahal…..there are lots that are very small and for which essentially all of their pokie money goes straight back into it’s sports teams. Please don’t confuse the big clubs with their hundreds of machines with the local footy, sailing, bowls clubs etc with just a handful…they are the ones that nobody is giving any thought to and which are least able to pay for the costs of the proposed changes. Their loss will be felt the most.

  • 9
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Not every drug dealer is Tony Montana, either.

  • 10
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    It sure is self serving, the clubs brazenly state they love ripping off the punters.

  • 11
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Mike actually raises an important point I reckon… some clubs - the smaller ones, the one like in my country town - do plough money back into the community.

    The answer to me seems obvious: open the books. A differential system and maybe some help to cover costs of those clubs that can demonstrate a solid basis of community support.

    Interestingly it is not actually the smaller community based clubs frothing at the mouth about this stuff - they know the problem gamblers, they know their families and they don’t feel at all comfortable with that.

    Big for the big fellas, the ones who don’t know and don’t care who they are hurting with squeezing their revenue each week - no mercy.

    It would also be a useful tactic for the government to split the clubs up and make sure that the big fellas are isolated from the smaller more community based outfits.

  • 12
    davidk
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that the lies of politicians and distortions of the media embolden special interest groups into presenting spin as fact without the fear of a public back-lash. The miners run a BS campaign, big tobacco run a BS campaign, then the clubs, the AHA and around it goes. What hope has your average citizen got of seeing through all the crap. They should all subscribe to Crikey.

  • 13
    Oscar Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    We would expect such vacuous statements from Robert McClelland a great Labor Party phoney in the tradition of Bob Carr. Why these two didn’t join the Tories is a mystery.

    Considering a huge amount of taxpayer’s money via social security payments is poured back into these clubs via their poker machines. we all have a vested interest in ensuring these Taj Mahals are reigned in. This claims that clubs “give back to the community” is a sham and as they use it every time perhaps that can be mandated into their profits. Watch them squeal then.

  • 14
    Edward James
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    What was it like in clubs and how did they survive before the one armed bandits came on the scene? I do not believe the spin about clubs providing community support. And if they do it is not enough to make up for the damage the bandits are doing sometimes 24/7. Edward James

  • 15
    Oscar Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    The question about the clubs and gambling is another indication of the corruption of the media in Australia.

    Those asking for some hard hitting investigations from journalists will be disappointed. The clammy hands of News Ltd reach into management and ownership of football clubs and the game itself.

    Will popular tabloids like the Herald Sun, Adelaide Advertiser or Daily Telegraph present unbiased both sides of the story ?.

    Let’s face it- Australia, like the USA & UK is on it’s way to becoming a corporation where businessmen call the shots.

  • 16
    Oscar Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    MIKE M : you are correct about smaller clubs and I belong to a yachting club that has poker machines and all profits go back into the club’s limited resourses with directors receiving expenses only with a small permanent hired staff.

    However our experience of ‘problem gambling’ has been almost non-existent. We have never heard or had a case of one yet in 40 years.

    I believe you will find this mainly happens in the very large clubs and for a reason-their ability to bedazzle with the lure of huge prizes and so on.

    There is no reason legislation could not be drafted where smaller community clubs are not penalised.

    And if anyone thinks these large clubs are hard-pressed, one only has to have watched the ‘celebrations’ as the Star casino proudly boasts that is has spent nearly one billion dollars on renovations. They didn’t do that for “the community”.

  • 17
    fredex
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Not being critical of the article overall but this opening claim:
    “Has there ever been a more self-serving public campaign than the one being mounted by Clubs Australia?” could be answered by reference to the campaigns of the greenhouse mafia and Ltd News Australia [whatever their name is] against a price on carbon, the irrigation lobby against environmental and economic sustainability in the Murray, the mining industry against the increase in resource royalties whatever, the alco pops industry reaction to to the restoration of the tax on same, the timber industry and forestry, the churches and same sex marriage, the …..
    You get the idea.

  • 18
    Oscar Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Mark Lucas & The Petersham Bowling Club are demonstrating what I believe will in time become the model for the future.

    There are huge swathes of the population that cannot abhor the traditional Taj Mahal style clubs with an emphasis on gambling.

  • 19
    Cynthia Crabapple
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Ben…I agree with everything you’ve reported other than the tax reference. Non-trading concerns (not for profit) are subject to income tax. Clubs are subject to income tax, capital gains tax, poker machine tax etc.
    I spent more than 30 successful years in club management. Most of which was in medium size NSW clubs. I worked to change the business models of those clubs to ensure their long term viability.
    I have 2 points:
    1
    A lot of club management is lazy and depends on the easy inflows from gaming. Those managers have absolutely no interest in any consequences of gaming.
    2
    Most clubs support, et al, sporting bodies etc because of 2 reasons. First, because they have to (at least in NSW) support community initiatives due to statutory compliance. Second, because they know “what goes around, comes around”. It’s not unusual for clubs to compete over a donee. For example, club X donates $1,000 to charity Y. Charity Y has 2 functions at club X. In fact, it’s not unusual for donor clubs to provide sponsorship with ‘ strings attached’.
    My only other comment refers to smaller clubs. Smaller clubs are in fact largely a different model and are quite often particular models of businesses that do put a lot back into their communities. This is often done where there is no statutory compliance to do so.
    Now ,more than ever, is the time to smash the control of pokie bandits.

  • 20
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Oscar,

    The really sad part of all this is that rather than being a model of the future - Mark Lucas’ club is actually harking back to the original idea. Before the advent of the pokies and the rivers of cash they generated clubs were genuine community facilities and assets.

    Sadly with the cash pouring in they - many if not most - have just become another corporation and they feed on the people they were built by and for.

    It is a nasty grubby and hypocritical business. No one ever intended this. And pokies are at the core of it.

  • 21
    Andrew Duffy
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    re: those statistics for the Panthers Group… their spending equates to 92.9% of profits going back to the community. doesn’t sound too shabby to me

  • 22
    Tim nash
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I am not supportive of pokies nor am I supportive of the local club or RSL.
    Bistro meals, pokies, old people and outdoor smoking areas don’t do anything for me.
    As for struggling sporting teams, it makes no difference in my life if the local football team or even the juniors survives or does not. Sporting support is distracting a side issue
    Not everyone frequents these places, nor does everyone like playing poker machines. This is a national issue that effects all Australians, clubs Australia has to deal with this frustrating fact.
    Clubs are Self-interested; they are just as addicted to poker machines as the punters who sink their pay-packet into them. They are also just as unwilling to admit they have a problem.
    The first step to solving a problem like this is admitting you have one in the first place.

  • 23
    drmick
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    In NSW, The problems were compounded when Hotels were allowed to have poker machines. Not only that, but the obligation that the clubs had, (to plow their profits back into the community), was not mandatory for the pub owner. Lots of big business men, (K Packer, J Singleton included), got pre warning of this, and bought pubs big time in the late 90’s and early noughties. Singleton is still a major player.
    Small clubs immediately lost the battle to survive and one by one they were absorbed by the bigger clubs. The big clubs didn’t want the small clubs debts; they wanted their pokies.
    Pubs did the same thing. Big pubs bought the pokies licences from small unprofitable pubs and shut the pubs down.

    It was this move which has led to the current situation in NSW where even pubs have a casino lounge, away from the public gaze to minimise the guilt of the players and provide some anonymity. Free drinks and poker machine to you service are other types of bait used to drain your pockets and the pockets of the gullible.

    Since Penrith Leagues has grown in size, its commitment to junior sport has hit rock bottom. They are flat out providing referees for games let alone socks, shorts or even players to come out to the kids presentation days.

    If the focus of the clubs activities alters due to this change then consider it a good change
    T
    This article only touches on the hypocrisy involved by all the pollies and the players involved.

  • 24
    dfgdgdf
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Similar arguments (that I would support) could be made against the churches.

  • 25
    Policeman MacCruiskeen
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Der are no problem gamblers here on Mutton Bird Island. None. There are pokies everywhere so there’s nivver a problem havin’ a bet. We fixed it so’s yez can have a bet in any public space at any toim a day or noight. Even the extensive National Parks have water and foir proof pokies in em. The whole setup is run tighter than a Health Services Union front office - Mrs MacCruiskeen and her tirty seven cousins are all employed in tha Mutton Bird Slaughterhole Memorial Bowling Club and Returned Veterans Resthome (Inc). Moi cousins, fifty three o’ the dears, are employed doin’ tha extensive grounds and kiddies play cell. Most o’ moi unregistered offspring work as counsellors with the Bowlo’s Committe for tha Impoverished and Chronically Drunk and they do a grand job keepin’ ‘em on their stools and all.

    And pump money into tha’ community we do, day and noight, to keep tha’ community sozzled and bettin’ which is their preferred loifestoil and God Given Roight. Free Mutton Bird Fingers ‘n Chips mornin’ noon and noight on tha’ hour to keep ‘em fed and on their stools; free buses (well, rickshaws since that last boatload snuck in but they’re cheap and funny as hell ta watch with their skinny little legs pumpin’ up hill and down dale) ta’ pick people up and come to the club fer a bet and tek ‘em home agin whether they want to or not. AND we do entertainment - Mutton Bird’s Got Talent every evening. And sportin’ subsidies too - guernseys fer da Muttono Maulers Under Eights and toiny little skirts fer tha Muttono Ballbreakers Netball Team.

    So don’t be tellin’ us how ta live or phwat values t’abide boi, boyo Gillard.

    Policeman Mac
    (Post Restante, Monaco, Fr).

  • 26
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Looks like you’ve got the problem well in hand constable … a glimpse of the future for us all no doubt.

  • 27
    Policeman MacCruiskeen
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Ah me boy, out on self parole agin’? Well in hand as you say. Der was a sloight down turn durin’ winter, as der allas is, but we introduced Bare Arsed Bowls and showed dose Petersham Pissants how ta do it roight. Funny as hell. Dat and lucky door prizes o’ a Full Weighed Ounce o’ Dyncorp’s Foinest. Talk about Jack Hoigh. No-one knows where ta look when old man Withiecomb delivers his bowls.

  • 28
    Edward James
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    The humor here is way above the thought product of those submitting stuff to Limited News / News Australia ! A shame really as we the people have paid our sixpences way back when we trusted the news to be exactly that, without spin influenced by those with money and influence to peddle! Edward James http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds
    0243419140

  • 29
    oggy
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Jesus why not just give Penrith its $90 million now and throw the pokies away because the taxpayer across the country is picking up the tab for this mess anyway through all the avenues of help to family members that are impacted.
    If the business model relies on this misery, then it is patently flawed and other models such as the one Mark Lucas at Petersham posted could be adopted .

  • 30
    AR
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Considering how powerful the AHA is over both “sides” of politics, why imagine that Clubs Australia isn’t?
    I shall try to put the facts’n’figures to Hadley tomorrow when he starts his daily rant about the selflessness of clubs - any odds on whether I get on or how long I survive the kill button?
    BTW, AndrewDuffy - try reading the Panther’s para. again, the $91.7M was 60% of revenue, ie $150M in total. So the outgoings were slightly less than the pokies’ take alone, the rest was just cream. For whom?
    Not the community. Think about that $91.7M being siphoned from the victims - imagine the community benefit had it been spent on silly fripperies like.. I dunno… food, clothing, rent, mortgages, children.

  • 31
    joe2
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Has there ever been a more self-serving public campaign than the one being mounted by Clubs Australia?

    Yes. The campaign against the mining tax with Gina and Twiggy wins hands down.

  • 32
    New Cassandra
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Ben - your whole premise is rubbish.
    The clubs do pay tax on pokie profits - around 50% of the gross in SA.
    and as for income tax, do some research on the “Principal of Mutuality”

  • 33
    Policeman MacCruiskeen
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    The Oligarchs o’ Mutton Bird Island are proud to announce our new Mental Health Initiative called ‘Beyond a Joke’ to address the causes and co-morbidities o’ depression. Sponsored by the Bowlo and the Aristocrat Employee Assistance Scheme the public faces o’ Beyond a Joke will be Packer the Younger and Puttynose McGreedy when he’s not bouncin’ th’unruly outta the Bowlo. Upcoming events include the ‘Loser Loser Walk o’ Shame’ down the main street o’ Mutton Bird designed to prevent problem gamblers from goin’ on national TV and scarin’ tha kiddes with their tales o’ woe and misrery. First Proize’ll be a whole month’s accommodation fer the whole family in the old Bongo Van in the back car park durin’ winter. This’ll be followed by the ‘Whose a Wowser’ Taunt Fest in which tha’ citizens of Mutton Bird get ta abuse anyone who won’t have a bet and a beer with his mates; the worst wowser’ll be tarred and feathered and paraded around the ground as pre-match entertainment on Grand Final Day. Finally, there’ll be an old fashioned Telethon, fer 24 hours, ta prove that we’re all good blokes and raise funds for a Suicide Prevention Measure which’ll be a bleddy big electric fence over at Suicide Cliffs Scenic Lookout. Suicide, a tragic thing that can be so simply prevented with proper fencing. Yez can’t say we’re not a carin’ community and nor that we don’t have a handle on effective social policy that doesn’t inconvenience the daily lives o’ the normal.

  • 34
    drmick
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    This morning the Sydney rum corps release information that links massive drug network involvement in gambling. players that come up short can pay their dents off by working as mules and providing cover for drug crops.

    Policeman mac studiously leaves out the rum corps, judiciary politicians and the kiddie fiddlers important role in ensuring the baited hooks set out by the clubs and pokies ensure a good bite and tight line that they can play for the rest of the poor buggers lives until it becomes a generational thing.

    Once the first, second, and third estates fall, and the fourth estate is owned by them, we arrive at this morning; the press self preservedly encouraging protecting the status quo.

  • 35
    Mike M
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Let’s add a bit of realism here, the small sporting clubs know their patrons and rarely see big punters or problem gamblers, yet they are the ones which will be hit hardest, not by loss of revenue, but by the very high costs as their machines will be the oldest and least adaptable. To expect that clubs can cope with such an economic shock is fanciful….they are going to need a lot of financial support to make the changes being forced upon them. Most of them already struggle from month to month.

    As for those who don’t care about sporting clubs, well you need to give some thought to the social consequences of teenagers losing yet another recreational opportunity. We don’t all come from affluent middle class suburbs where hanging out in cafes is the main form of recreation.

  • 36
    eric
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Andrew Duffy
    Posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    re: those statistics for the Panthers Group… their spending equates to 92.9% of profits going back to the community. doesn’t sound too shabby to me

    On my reckoning Andrew its about $6 million in donations to parties OUTSIDE the club!

    Thats about 8% a paltry amount! The biggest winner is the NSW government!

  • 37
    Policeman MacCruiskeen
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    On advice o’ the Beyond a Joke Mental Health Specialists we’ve installed a row o’ weatherproof pokies at the Suicide Cliffs Scenic Lookout ta give the depressed a last chance ta change their luck before they make that terrible, irrevocable decision. There’s goin’ to be a plaque commemoratin’ them as the ‘Jeff Kennett Last Pull Don’t Worry Be Happy Mental Health Initiative’.

  • 38
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Top of the morning constable…

    Here at Wollibuddha we can show you isolated rustics a thing or two about dedication and respect…

    We of the Woolibuddha Progress Association have launched a plan to have each of the pokies at the local RSL dedicated to the memory of a fallen soldier - a small plaque, something discrete in flashing red neon … that reminds the punters with every puch of the button that their constant contributions are really a sacred mark of respect to the memory of one of our local fallen diggers. We reckon that would be just what they would have wanted.

    The Woolibuddha Bowling Club - across the road from the rissole - has gone downhill since the white leghorns took over in 1973. They just have to go one better of course. They propose to have each of their machines earmarked for a local worthy cause … so they’ll be having each of their machines tagged up as sloshing funds to the CWA, Vinnies, the chook breeders, the quilters and the local primary schools. Talk about transparency!!!!

    But no doubt it’ll give the punters great comfort to know that each press of the button will see a river of gold flowing through the town all the way down to the kiddies and the stoney broke. After all that’s really what it’s all about isn’t it?

    Only trouble is that with the town shrinking like a dam in a drought, we’ve now got a few more poker machines than we’ve got people in town. What with two pubs and two clubs we’re actually overendowed with recreational facilities of a rigged odds nature.

    Personally I’d be blaming the school. Those do-gooder teachers are doing such a top job that the kiddies have the wherewithall to get up off the lounge and go off to live in the city rather than just go onto Newstart and hang about smoking dope or sucking coldies like their parents. If it keeps up like this there won’t be enough pensioners to keep our clubs afloat at all.

    Maybe we should make the pokies compulsory. I’d appreciate your advice.

  • 39
    Policeman MacCruiskeen
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Bedad! What an excellent idea is individual pokies dedicated to local fallen heroes. Makes me heart fair swell wtih proid. Any chance o’ rankin’ ‘em? Loik, Premium Machines named after VC’s through to one cent machines in recognition of campaign and service medals? Yez do make us feel loik hicks down here in Mutton Bird Island with thinking loik dat.

    As to the depopulation o’ rural Australia: a sad business. But there are opportunities - Orstrayan Foreign Policy seems intent on depopulatin’ Iraq and Afghanistan and a lot o’ em wanna come here but there’s a misfit between departmental priorities as DIAC keeps turnin’ em away. So, Aussie Military is providin’ the push factor, the sound o’ pokies and unlimited winnins is providing the pull factor whoil DIAC is providing the shove off factor. We could repopulate rural Orstraya with reffos easy. Our plan here is to insinuate Kennett into DIAC and get some advisers in der from Aristocrat then we could install banks and banks o’ pokies on Christmas Oisland with the Special Win bein’ citizenship. An’ now what true blue Ozzie would deny wimmin and children their winnins at tha pokies?

    As fer compulsory pokies - ain’t they already in Wollibuddha? Tha place has gorn backwards alroight.

  • 40
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Constable…
    You paint a sordid picture indeed - more sordid than the usual … DIAC infested with wowser anti-gambling methodists and other proddies … who would of thought!
    It’s all coming clear to me now.

    From what I’m hearing down at the club though, the Christmas Island Resort already operates a bit like a lottery with DIAC rigging the odds… but the idea of wall to wall pokies and roulette tables would seem a much cheaper option than all this overplayed assessment business… probably fairer too… and it would give them boaties somefink to do with all the cash we shower on them when they arrive. Ain’t that right Suzanne Blake?

    We could maybe even get a grant to set it up - call it a cultural adjustment program or somesuch.

    As for Woolibuddha and the compulsory wheel spinning - yes things have slid away since we were told by the courts to unchain the punters because it violated their civil liberties. The nanny state gone mad I tell ya!

  • 41
    Observation
    Posted Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I think it is a very sad look when you enter a club, supposedly there to be an integral part of the community and you see rows of these people, glaring at a screen, beer sitting on top of the machine, shoving in coins and pushing buttons with a blank expression on their faces. Not a very social atmosphere which is what I thought these clubs were supposed to be about!

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