Main content

Demons set for a pokie-free future

Backing Bucks and Stringer, more All the news with the Footy Feed team

MELBOURNE has announced it will join North Melbourne and withdraw from the Victorian gaming industry.

The club's two gambling venues, the Leighoak Club and the Bentleigh Club, house 180 poker machines and contributed approximately $2 million of net profit in 2017.

The Leighoak Club will be sold to Moonee Valley Racing Club in July, while the Bentleigh Club's gaming licence will not be renewed beyond 2022.

President Glen Bartlett and CEO Peter Jackson said the club's decision would allow it to refocus its core on football.

"It's a significant day for this club," Bartlett said on Wednesday.

"Gaming is not part of our core business, but it's been a business imperative over the last few years.

"It enables us to make this hard decision to transition from a club that's been reliant on gaming income to a club that is strong and stable and will not be reliant on gaming income.

"(A club) that will refocus its core focus on football and its core activities, and we back ourselves to grow in these areas."

North Melbourne cut ties with gaming machines in 2008, with Melbourne becoming the first Victorian-based club to follow suit.

In the 2016-2017 financial year, 17 venues from the nine Victorian-based clubs, including Melbourne, contributed $94 million in revenue.

The Demons denied they had received any pressure from the AFL after commission chairman Richard Goyder last year said he "hates" pokies and they were "a real problem" to clubs.

"No pressure at all. This was a club-led decision, no pressure, no financial assistance from the AFL. We'd been working on this for at least two years," Bartlett said.

Jackson, who was a founding director of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Board, said the club would look to other ways to recover lost revenue as it transitions out of the gaming industry.

"We understand that community sentiment and we support the community sentiment, but the reality is we also have an obligation the club is financially solvent and stable," Jackson said.

And while the club will receive cash flow from the sale of Leighoak this year, Jackson said the club would continue to look to grow its fan base and "traditional" forms of revenue through gate takings.

The Demons will host two blockbusters this year, Anzac Day Eve against Richmond and Queen's Birthday against Collingwood.

How many poker machines does your club operate?

  • Carlton – 290 (four venues)
  • Brisbane – 200 (one venue)
  • Essendon – 190 (two venues)
  • Melbourne – 180 (two venues)
  • Hawthorn – 155 (two venues)
  • Collingwood – 146 (two venues)
  • Geelong – 100 (one venue)
  • Richmond – 87 (one venue)
  • St Kilda – 83 (one venue)
  • Port Adelaide – 63 (two venues)
  • Western Bulldogs – 60 (one venue)
  • Adelaide, Fremantle, Gold Coast, West Coast, North Melbourne, Sydney, GWS – Nil

*As at August, 2017