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17 March 2011

Australian NRL Clubs Ask Govt Assistance, by Greg Tingle - 17th March 2011

G'day sports nuts, punters, legal eagles, government and all. The fallout from the Australian governments proposed gaming (pokie) law changes continue, with NRL clubs asking the Government to make up the shortfall, since they are certain they will be out of pocked if the proposed changes go ahead. Problem is, with all the waste and lots of financial mismanagement, the Aussie government doesn't have much money to hand out to anyone, and clubs are not exactly the darling of 'Big Brother' at the moment. Media Man and Gambling911 crash tackle the situation...

The National Rugby League clubs in 'Sin City' Sydney have a list of requests (getting closer to demands we hear) to offset the effect on their takings, should the Aussie government implement proposals like 'smart cards' onto 'one armed bandits' (slots aka pokies).

The licensed clubs which are behind the footy clubs estimate the dip in revenue and cost of implementing the changes in attempt to reduce problem gambling will force them to cease many community support initiatives, like nurturing up and coming junior players, helping out aged care, schools and the like. It's the flow on effect.

Should the federal government keep at these gaming reforms, clubs reckon a couple of things will assist them on the bean counter side of things...

The election of a Coalition government in NSW

A billion-dollar broadcasting deal for rugby league

A High Court decision upholding a turnover tax on wagering

The NSW state election will be on March 26 and Labor is set to go down for the count in spectacular fashion.

The Coalition (Liberals and Nationals) have inked a memorandum of understanding with Sydney's whale size licensed clubs giving them tax relief on pokies, snatching St George Leagues Club (The Dragons) $800,000. Clubs with larger gambling revenue (Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs), will also get more of the action.

St George's annual contribution to football is $3 million: $2.7 million is put aside to the NRL team and $300,000 to the club's junior representative teams.

Media deals can also be a big part of the financial future of clubs. The clubs are seeking a billion-dollar TV rights deal. This would effectively raise the NRL's revenue from broadcasting by a massive 50%, and would be expected to double the NRL's annual grant to its 16 clubs, currently at $3.5 million.

We will have to wait until the conclusion of the end of next season to see what happens with the TV contract. Free-to-air rights holder, Network Nine, has committed to pay more for the content, while Network Ten and Channel Seven have advised they are in the running to make bids to attempt to snatch the TV rights offerings.

Tax is always a big thing for business. A 1.5 per cent turnover tax on wagering, is tipped to increase NRL revenue by as much as $20 mill. Sweet money if you can get it. This would facilitate the NRL to grab higher product fees, further increase annual club grants and thus reduce clubs' dependence on 'one armed bandits'.

The news is not all good for the clubs. Friday's High Court decision granting Northern Territory corporate bookmakers and Betfair leave to appeal against a Federal Court decision upholding the turnover tax may play on the minds of the Sydney NRL club powers that be.

It does't mean the High Court will reverse the Federal Court decision that gives legitimacy to product fees being based on the existing gross profit model, however NRL clubs would have preferred the High Court did not grant leave to appeal.

The federal government's agenda to address problem gambling is set out in a memorandum to the presidents of licensed clubs on March 3 we understand.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, favours a pre-commitment scheme where "We use technology to give people a tool, at the beginning of a gambling session, to think about how much they want to spend, set limits and stick to them. Under the model recommended by the Productivity Commission, players can set the limit as high or low as they like and players could choose no limit at all if they prefer."

In a letter to the minister on March 9, the general manager of St George Leagues Club, Danny Robinson, set out his board's concerns.

"This club cannot afford to spend the estimated costs of $6 million on the required technology to implement such a system. The expected reduction in revenue for this club would be $14 million per year which, together with the costs associated with the implementation of mandatory pre-commitment, would cause this club to close. Closure of this famous club would result in the loss of jobs for hundreds of workers and the loss of facilities enjoyed by over 30,000 members. The club's current contribution of over $4 million per year for sport and sporting facilities would be lost to the community … The club's annual contribution of $300,000 to local hospitals and children with special needs would also be lost."

Robinson stages the flow on effects would occur without guarantee a pokie pre-commitment system would work. The system hasn't worked well in other countries with many experts, private and government saying the system is a failure, and a waste of time and money. Gamblers will continue to gamble, especially problem gamblers, with lots of loop holes - fake ID, makes cards, club hopping, removing fingerprints and all manner of other cleaver tactics, in attempt to outsmart 'Big Brother'.

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen sectors covered

Online Casinos, Online Poker and Sports Betting...

Ok readers, we hear you... you also want to know some of the best places to play online (that accept Aussies) if your in or around the Asia Pacific - Australia (including Tassie) and New Zealand, so here it is... (Many of the world's best slot games. Aussies and Kiwi's welcome).

Captain Cooks Casino

Betfair (sports betting only) (poker, slots including Marvel slot games and sports betting) (online poker at one of the world's most respected poker rooms and gaming brands)


Australian Casinos

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Take the time to research and learn games before placing down money

Media Man, Casino News Media and Gambling911 are website portals. Not casinos as such, however are recognised as world leading websites that cover the sector and act as central points to games, news, reviews and more.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen sectors covered

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited and Network Ten

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