We will win the war: clubs
NORTH Coast clubs have vowed to “show their teeth” and join Clubs NSW’s fight to keep new poker machine technology out of their establishments.
A meeting of Far North Coast clubs at Mullumbimby yesterday heard the Federal Government’s proposed pre-commitment technology would cost local clubs $73 million to install, slash income by $74 million annually and lead to the loss of more than 800 jobs.
Clubs NSW policy and government executive manager Josh Landis issued local clubs with a call to arms.
“We all have to be active on the ground. You all need to write, email your local MP, because numbers count,” Mr Landis said.
He urged members to cancel a proposed private meeting with the federal member for Page Janelle Saffin at Evans Head next month, and reschedule it as a public meeting on “your turf and your terms”.
“When you’ve got people like Janelle Saffin and Justine Elliot having to eyeball their communities, plus the community groups you donate to, that’ll have a massive impact,” he said.
The pre-commitment smart card, part of a Gillard Government deal to get independent MP Andrew Wilkie on side, is a system that would force gamblers to say how much they were prepared to lose before they start using a machine. Most states and Clubs NSW say the system should be voluntary, but the Federal Government gave a commitment to Mr Wilkie it would be mandatory.
Clubs NSW said it would not help the 0.4% of the population who are problem gamblers, and will “put clubs on the scrap heap”.
Ballina Cherry St Bowling Club chairman Dac Cameron said installing the technology would cost his club $1.25 million.
“We don’t have that sort of money. Our 8200 members and 42 staff could be without a club,” he said.
Greg Hooley, chairman of the 17,000 member-strong Ballina RSL, said the proposal would leave the club $4 million worse off annually.
Dr Sally Gainsbury, a post-doctoral research fellow at the centre for gambling and research at Southern Cross University, agreed the pre-commitment technology was flawed, as it allowed gamblers to set their own limits. Money would be better spent on research and development of a new system, she said. Clubs NSW chairman Peter Newell said its campaign would continue “full bore”.
“We will win it ... don’t be in any doubt,” Mr Newell said.