Melton City Council Could End Essendon Football Club’s Pokies Plans to Tackle Gambling Losses

Today, the Melton City Council is set to vote on whether or not to provide the Essendon Football Club with an extension of their Melton Country Club lease contract. A local councillor has described the vote on the lease contract and the adjacent poker machines’ plan as a “difficult situation”.

If the city Council greenlights the football club’s lease contract, such a decision would allow the Bombers to continue to run the Melton Country Club for another 29 years.

Earlier this year, it became clear that the Essendon Football Club was having negotiations over the possible prolongation of the lease at the venue, where there are currently 89 electronic gaming terminals (EGTs) also known as pokies. The Bombers have been using the poker machines as a source of revenue, in spite of the fact that recently the Western Bulldogs, Geelong, Collingwood and Melbourne have planned to exit the gaming industry and stop reaping gambling revenue.

The above-mentioned four clubs are expected to join North Melbourne, which has been the only club in the state of Victoria which has not been drawing profit from pokies for ten years.

Tim Costello, one of the most eager anti-gambling campaigners, called for the Melton Council to be brave and reject the extension of the pokie club’s lease contract, despite the fact that the local legal officer Maree Stellini recommended councillors to proceed with the approval procedure.

AGF Director Urges Melton Council to Reject the Lease Extension

As mentioned above, Steve Abboushi, a councillor, explained that the situation was difficult, as both sides of the argument had strong grounds.

He said that he would vote after he had weighed up the benefits of the Essendon Football Club’s presence in the city’s poker machines business, as well as the Bombers’ community benefits program and its influence on community clubs.

According to official data, the overall losses of local gamblers at the venue in 2017/2018 amount to AU$5.685 million.

As mentioned above, the anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello, who currently serves as director of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, urged the council to leave the current lease contract to expire in 2022, when the end of its current term is set. He reminded that Australians have been still accounting for the largest gambling losses worldwide, with their annual losses being worth AU$24 billion, with the citizens of Victoria accounting for losses of AU$3.2 billion.

Mr. Costello highlighted that the Australian community has been very concerned about gambling and the negative impact it could have on society, so the people’s elected representatives needed to do something about that. He explained that had been exactly the reason why AFL clubs, including Melbourne, Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs have all given up the poker machine-generated revenue. Now, according to the Alliance for Gambling Reform director, Melton’s officials should do everything they can to force Essendon Football Club, which also runs 101 poker machines at Windy Hill, do the same.

  • Author
Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.
Daniel Williams
Casino Guardian covers the latest news and events in the casino industry. Here you can also find extensive guides for roulette, slots, blackjack, video poker, and all live casino games as well as reviews of the most trusted UK online casinos and their mobile casino apps.

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