Crowe's business partner in the South Sydney football club, Peter Holmes, stated, "It's been proven beyond reasonable doubt that poker machines cause damage in the community and Russell said we've got to find a new business model."
The idea is not a popular one throughout New South Wales, or anywhere in Australia, as sports clubs and pubs rely heavily on poker machines for a good portion of their profit, most having already set aside separate rooms and designated space purely for gambling patrons. In addition, revenue from those machines contributes billions of dollars in tax revenue to state governments. For example, the 160 machines in Crowe's club contribute approximately A$7 million in state revenue per year.
While many club and league owners support the removal of poker machines on a moral basis, acknowledging the harmful effects especially in low-income and low-employment areas, they have yet to find other ways to supplement that income if the removal of those machines was to be seriously considered. Crowe and Holmes, whose club is currently under renovation and is due to reopen in March of 2008, are considering several other revenue sources, including sponsorships and the newly government-sanctioned keno lottery games.
The proposal to remove the poker machines is under consideration by the club's board and will require approval before Crowe's suggestion will be implemented.
Crowe has been known as an influential decision-maker with regards to the clubs. Earlier in 2007, he successfully lobbied for the removal of scantily clad cheerleaders from his South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league club. Crowe and Holmes are now heavily pushing their agenda to remove the machines from their clubs, as well as other clubs in the New South Wales area.
The stir that has been created is translating into a nationwide debate regarding poker, keno, and gambling. Club and league owners are only beginning to weigh in on the discussion, and the forthcoming decision by the South Sydney football club's board will likely affect the future of poker machines in clubs across Australia.