Victorian AFL Clubs make over US$25.9m from pokies in full-year 2023

Paradise Ent aims to diversify by launching slot machines.
Paradise Ent aims to diversify by launching slot machines.

Gambling reform advocates have criticised the results.

Australia.- Four AFL clubs in Victoria have come under scrutiny for making earnings of more than AU$40m (US$25.9m) from gaming machines in the last fiscal year. 

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission‘s data showed the club with the highest income from machines remained Carlton, with AU$19.1m from 290 machines across four venues. That translates to an average income of AU$65,954 per machine.

Richmond, another AFL club, reported earnings of AU$4.6m through 97 machines at the Wantirna Club in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, averaging $47,573 per machine. St. Kilda made AU$1.8m from 83 machines located at its Moorabbin venue. Meanwhile, Essendon Football Club recorded AU$14.7m from 190 machines at two venues.

The advocacy group No Pokies at Essendon, criticised the results. The group’s president, Mike Read, said: “In recent years we have seen AFL clubs rush to get out of the pokies business, recognising the immense social harm they cause.”

An Essendon spokesperson emphasised the club’s reliance on poker machine revenue due to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. All four businesses are participants in the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s “Love the Game” initiative, designed to raise awareness of gambling harm among youth. 

However, Carol Bennet, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, questioned the clubs’ participation in the initiative. Bennet noted that Collingwood, Melbourne, Geelong, and the Western Bulldogs have abandoned poker machines.

North Melbourne became the first Victorian AFL club to divest from poker machines in 2008. Hawthorn followed suit by selling its poker machine venues in 2022, while Collingwood decided to exit the industry in 2018.

Samantha Thomas, a gambling researcher at Deakin University, has called for urgent implementation of buyback schemes to support all AFL clubs in relinquishing poker machines. 

See also: AFL to review restrictions on gambling ads following criticism

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