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Ban on pokies at Souths to set a trend?

You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard about Peter Holmes a Court and Russell Crowe’s decision to get the poker machines out of the South Sydney Leagues Club writes Simon Nichols in the South Sydney Herald of November 2007.

The controversial choice made the major headlines of every newspaper and news program in NSW. The question is, does it have a chance of materialising?

“That’s the challenge they (Holmes a Court and Crowe) face,” says Bill Alexiou-Hucker, chairperson of the South Sydney Leagues Club. “They need to prove to the board that such a model can work and can work without too much of a financial risk to the club. The board is not against the idea but if you look at the Club NSW website, gaming addiction is not as big as alcohol addiction. Gaming does not have as many negative effects on society as alcohol has.”

“Still, I wouldn’t put anything past Crowe and Holmes a Court. If it was Joe Bloggs and Joe Blow off the street, I’d say ‘no’ but these two are extremely media savvy. Look at the ideas they’ve implemented so far – the footballers in Armani suits, the non-attendance of players at the after-games events, and replacing cheerleaders with drummers. They are definitely trend-setters and full of confidence in their own ability.”

“Right now we have 60 machines and they bring in about two million dollars a year. We have people to employ and we have to see if we have the resources to make it viable. The scheme has put us on the map though. We have been on the front cover of all the major papers as the lead story. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. The uniqueness of this idea has been immensely marketable for us. Right now we are relying on Russell and Peter 120%.”

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Tony Pooley thinks that the concept is an attractive alternative. “It would be nice for clubs not to be dominated by pokies. Right now it can be hard to find a quiet part of a pub or club. The smoke-free laws have been a positive since they were introduced and I think this move could add to a more active friendly environment. If it is financially viable, it will demonstrate the opportunity to re-create a family environment.”

The Souths Board met last Wednesday and the business of that meeting has not as yet been released to the general public. As to whether this ban on pokies goes ahead, we will just have to wait and see.

Peter Holmes a Court was not available for comment.

Photo: Caity Burridge Caption: Tony Pooley outside Souths Leagues Club

Source: South Sydney Herald November 2007