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Five AFL clubs granted new 20 year pokie licenses

Poker machine policy battle

FIVE Victorian AFL clubs are set to continue taking revenue from pokies after the state government announced the recipients of new 20-year licenses for gaming machines.

Victorian clubs Essendon, Hawthorn, Richmond, Carlton and St Kilda have been handed 20 year licenses, beginning in 2022, to continue operating pokies at venues around Melbourne.

The new 20 year licenses can be sold at any time.

Five Victorian AFL clubs are staying in the pokies while four have said they will no longer take pokies revenue.

Collingwood, Geelong, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will sell their pokies, while North Melbourne has been one of the pioneering pokies-free clubs.

AFL clubs keeping pokies were handed licences to operate the same amount of machines they currently own with Carlton (290 machines) the most followed by Essendon (190), Hawthorn (165), Richmond (97) and St Kilda (83).

Hawthorn generated the most revenue from pokies in the last financial year. The Hawks pocketed $24.3 million, followed by Carlton ($18.4 million), Essendon ($11.6 million), Richmond ($5.3 million) and St Kilda ($2.09 million).

  • It’s understood the clubs have told the AFL they’d like to sell their pokies, but don’t have viable ways to replace the revenue.

    Richmond are believed to have approached the AFL to discuss how the league could subsidise the pokies exits. The AFL, led by chairman Richard Goyder, wants to be pokies-free.

    Hawthorn said they take responsibilities around gambling “very seriously” and that they signed the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation charter in 2014. Hawthorn “will seek to identify new non-football business ventures” as part of their “2050 vision”.

    “The Hawthorn Football Club aims to be financially secure and independent from the AFL, as a result the club is reliant on our non-football investment,” Hawthorn’s statement read.

    The Hawks said they employ 130 staff at their venues, which are “much more than gaming venues”.

    Carlton, St Kilda and Richmond did not provide comment.

    Collingwood, Geelong and the Western Bulldogs were still allocated pokies by the state government, but have publicly stated they will selling them as soon as possible.

    Collingwood stated in July they would have sold their stakes by October.

    Melbourne sold their machines but will continue to operate the Bentleigh Club without pokies. The Demons made almost $11 million from the sale.

    Essendon wants to extend their lease of the Melton Country Club, and the operations of their pokies at the venue.

    Glen Eira, the municipality where the Bentleigh Club is located, had the biggest drop in pokies of any council in the state government’s post-2022 allocation.

    Alternatively Essendon, who have 89 pokies at the Melton Country Club, want to extend their lease at the venue.

    Council will decide on November 12 if Essendon’s lease will be extended, but it is expected to be granted. The Bombers also have another 101 machines at Windy Hill.

    Carlton has pokies at Club Laverton, The Vic Inn in Williamstown, The Manningham Club in Bulleen and The Royal Oak Richmond. Hawthorn’s pokies are at Vegas at Waverley Gardens in Mulgrave and the WestWaters Hotel in Caroline Springs.

    Richmond has pokies at the Wantirna Club, while St Kilda’s pokies are at their Moorabbin social club.

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