Victorian AFL clubs raked in $40m from poker machines last financial year

This story by Henry Belot first appeared in The Guardian on 6th September 2023.

Four Victorian AFL clubs received more than $40m from poker machines in the last financial year, enraging harm reduction advocates and fan groups.

Figures from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission confirm Carlton is still the club most reliant on pokies. It pocketed $19.1m from 290 machines at four venues – an average of $65,954 per machine.

Richmond received $4.6m through 97 machines at the Wantirna Club in Melbourne’s east, averaging $47,573 per machine. St Kilda took $1.8m from 83 machines at its Moorabbin base.

Essendon received $14.7m from 190 machines at two venues which, according to the advocacy group No Pokies at Essendon, is the biggest total since 2007. The group’s president, Mike Read, said the club recorded big losses on field this year – and big gambling losses off it.

he No Pokies at Essendon group has the support of one lifelong Bombers fan in federal parliament, the independent MP Zoe Daniel, who said football clubs should not be “preying on their supporters to make money out of gambling”.

“This is a flawed business model that bleeds money from the most vulnerable in our communities and targets young people,” Daniel said.

Samantha Thomas, a gambling researcher at Deakin University, said the Victorian government needed to “urgently implement buyback schemes” to help all AFL clubs get out of pokies.

“The last thing we want is for machines to just be sold on to continue to cause harm,” Thomas said.

“Substantially reducing the number of machines in the community is one of the clearest ways that we prevent the harms from these products and to rebuild healthier communities.”


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