18 December 2017

Where the clubs' pokies contributions really go

| Ian Bushnell
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The house always wins? Results of the Community Contributions Scheme relating to Pokies and gaming venues are in.

Community contributions of $10.5 million from ACT clubs’ poker machine income in 2015-16 generated benefits to the community up to triple that figure but more than a third of contributions went to clubs’ own activities, according to an analysis of the Community Contributions Scheme.

The analysis, by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and commissioned by the ACT Gaming and Racing Commission, found that the $10.5 million in community contributions created an indicative value of $16.8 million to $33.2 million of benefit to the community, and that this would be lost or have to be replaced with alternative programs if the Scheme did not exist.

However $3.8 million went, in effect, back to the clubs themselves through the ‘Own event’ ($79,636), ‘Own maintenance’ ($1,871,266) and ‘Own team’ ($1,855,742) categories.

The ‘Own event’ category relates to events open to the public that are hosted by the club.

‘Own maintenance’ refers to the maintenance, upkeep and management of infrastructure, generally sporting fields and greens, which must be accessible to the public, but is generally club owned and operated.

‘Own team’ contributions are administered within the club and also include sponsorship of a national professionalised league, with expenditure including payments to coaches and individual players, medical expenses, team transport and consumables.

The greatest expenditure was for ‘Community sport’ at $3,825,408, with ‘Social assistance’ $1,541,512, ‘Activity’ $800,481, ‘Religious/culture/community’ $377,783, ‘Education’ $89,738, ‘Gambling harm and substance abuse’ $60,031.

The report found the Scheme delivered its purpose but it was difficult to show the community benefit from a club’s own infrastructure maintenance, and that community access to that infrastructure was not currently measured, and maybe only for specific times, or at a prohibitive cost.

It also said that the impact of contributions to a club’s own team was uncertain because these were within the club’s primary purpose and it was unknown whether they would still occur without the Scheme.

However, Clubs ACT chief executive Gwyn Rees said it was no surprise that clubs set up by a particular community or sport geared contributions to that end.

Mr Rees said that there was an accepted system nationwide for a portion of clubs’ community contributions to be spent on the maintenance of infrastructure.

He said the Scheme subsidised memberships, teams and maintenance and this was recognised throughout the Scheme.

“Clubs maintain over 400 hectares of green space for sporting use. There is extensive recreational support across the ACT,” he said.

“By way of comparison, ACT Government maintains 300ha of sports grounds. The maintenance of recreational assets is huge across the clubs, two-thirds of which maintain some form of recreational asset.”

Contributions have declined since 2013-14, from $11,239,184 to $10,501,695, with declining poker machine revenue and two tax rises taking their toll, although Mr Rees said contributions had been held above the legislated amount of 8 per cent at 12.45 per cent.

Mr Rees flagged a communications campaign next year to better publicise the benefits of the contributions, as recommended in the report.

“We think there are better ways to communicate the benefits of the Scheme to the community and engage other groups who may be interested in accessing support from clubs,” he said.

The report also suggested that a published community plan might be a way for clubs to prioritise particular needs, and that a grants system could target areas of the community in most need but this could be costly to administer, shut out smaller organisations and stop in-kind contributions.

The report can be found here.

What are your thoughts on the results of the analysis? Let us know by commenting below.

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Thanks for the breakdown. Very interesting.

Be nice if the Vikings could use some of their earnings to mow the grass at their Erindale car park, the park situated between their old Admin building and the main club.

Looks very ordinary compared to the rest of their well manicured lawns. Unless they now reckon it belongs to the gumment, although their patrons are the main users of it.

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