Drop in pokie revenue to hurt BFNL clubs

BALLARAT Football Netball League clubs will be stung by a downturn in pokies revenue.

AFL Goldfields regional general manager Rod Ward said state government legislation banning automatic teller machines in gaming venues had been felt by the Ballarat Leagues Club, which is owned and operated by the BFNL’s social club.

More than $200,000 was distributed to clubs last season – weighted according to the number of junior and senior teams in operation – which is expected to fall to about half that figure this year.

“Clubs were advised prior to Christmas that because of the reduction (of revenue) that followed the ATM withdrawals that figures would be reduced to $10,000 (for senior clubs – down from $16,600 in 2013),” Ward said.

Ward said clubs had been disappointed, but were accepting of the news. 

He said a final decision on the allocation of funds would be known following a league board meeting, which was held last night.

“The Leagues Club is confident once the electronic gaming machine entitlements are repaid in full by February 2017, it is hoped the sponsorship could be increased up to previous levels,” he said.

North Ballarat City president Stephen Darbin said he fully understood the reasons behind the decrease in sponsorship, but admitted the funding cut would have an impact at club level.

 Darbin said City received a total of about $20,000 via quarterly instalments last year, which it used to offset umpire fees.

“I understand the Leagues Club has to act within their resources. They can only allocate to clubs what they’ve got,” Darbin said.

“Ten grand is lot of money to raise for a small club. You have functions and things like that, but we have to have a good function to raise 10 grand.”

The ATM ban came into play in July 2012 at gaming venues across the state except Crown Casino, but money can still be withdrawn via eftpos facilities over the counter.

State government spokesperson James Talia told The Courier the legislation had been brought in to reduce the “scourge” of problem gambling.

“An independent study by Swinburne University has shown that it has had that effect, particularly for problem gamblers, whose spending has been reduced,” Talia said.

tim.oconnor@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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