Pokies Free

November 26, 2020 BY

CEO of the Geelong Cats Brian Cook at GMHBA Stadium. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

THE Geelong Football Club is gaming free after completing the historic sale of The Brook and plans to make up the deficit by investing positively in the community.

“It took a long time, but we got there eventually,” Cats CEO Brian Cook said.

“We started six or seven years ago. We had two venues and we had 100 machines at the stadium. This week we finalised the last 80 in the sale of The Brook out at Point Cook.”

Selling The Brook to Melbourne Racing Club is a historic moment for the Cats.

Gaming provided important profit for the club, however it contradicted the club’s core messaging.

“It didn’t fit into the objectives of our club, our purpose, or our value system,” Mr Cook said.

“One of our values is to be ‘commercial and considered’. In this case you can certainly be commercial and make lots of dollars out of it, but to be considered, you need to consider the affects that gaming has on people, particularly those that are really struggling because of it.

“Admittedly it’s a small percentage, but it is a percentage, and it does affect community and our society in a
material way.”

According to Mr Cook the club has been slowly dismantling their ties with the gaming industry.

“It has brought a long period of time, something like 30 years or being involved in the gaming industry to an end, which includes no gambling advertising at the stadium when we play – that’s no longer part of our system. We also ensure that any investments we make don’t end up with money going into the gaming industry,” he said.

At their peak, the club was generating close to $4 million in net profits from pokies. They plan to make up the deficit by investing positively in the community.

“The money we made raised from sale (The Brook) will be used for revenue raising assets or activities for us.

“For instance, we just bought the gym over the other side of the road, Geelong’s Gym, so we’ll keep putting some of that money into fitness and wellbeing activities.

“We might pick two or three new revenue areas which align with our business, our footy club and our values”.

North Melbourne were the first Victorian-based club to stop operating gambling machines back in 2008, since then Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and now Geelong are on that list. Melbourne will exit when a Bentleigh lease expires in 2022.

This is at odds with Carlton, Essendon, Richmond and St. Kilda who all received new 20-year leases to operate machines until 2042.

Port Adelaide and Brisbane are the only interstate teams participating in the gambling industry.

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