As reported here in September, Russell Crowe and business partner Peter Holmes a Court began lobbying the company’s board to remove all poker machines from their football club in South Sydney, Australia. It turns out that their efforts were successful.
Though poker machines have been a significant form of revenue for the South Sydney Leagues Club since its inception, Crowe and Holmes were inspired to make the change when an official report was issued revealing that over half the money spent on gambling came from welfare payments.
Upon the announcement of their efforts, Holmes a Court said, “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.”
After serious consideration, the board voted four to three to remove the poker machines from the club. While two board members have vowed to challenge the decision, the club owners are moving forward with the removal of the machines.
Holmes a Court spoke to 2GB’s Jason Morrison about the decision and said the following: “We put our best proposal forward. We’re trying to build a new type of club, a club for the future, for the way our society is going… I think we’re just trying to react to the times…
“I recognize that it’s a model which is not used in New South Wales very much, but there were pubs and clubs in Victoria before they got poker machines that were very successful. There’s an entire state in Western Australia that has no poker machines. There are no poker machines outside casinos in the U.S., yet there are pubs and clubs that work.
“The offering has to be good food and beverage, and it has to be a club that’s going to put on events for its members. And hopefully, we’ve got a club now which is large enough where we can do the so-called traditional club-type activities where there’s room and it’s appropriate to put on bingo, but it’s also appropriate at night for the football club to do events for its sponsors or for corporates to hold events at the venue…
“If [patrons] want their club to be strong, then they can spend the money to become members. The average member of a club might lose in the machines north of $1000; memberships are a fraction of that to support your football club, and there are a heap of events that come out of that – there are matches, there are discounts, there are game day attendance…
“I hope the things that we do are ultimately as enjoyable for people as having poker machines and hopefully as successful for the club as having poker machines…”
Crowe and Holmes a Court hope to set an example for other club owners in Australia to decrease or remove their poker machines as well.