Canberra Clubs Prepared To Abandon Pokie Machines

vikings groupCanberra Vikings Group one of the largest community club groups in Australia has said that it is considering shifting its focus away from pokie machines and using its land to build a new multi-development project.

The club is looking to diversify its business as a result of the declining profits from the pokie machines it operates as well as the recent decision of the ACT government to grant pokie machine licenses to the Canberra casino which is being built by Aquis Group. Net profit reported by the four clubs owned by Vikings in Tuggeranong has declined from $44 million to $22 million over the past 10 years.

Under the new plan, a mixed-use development facility costing up to $350 million would be built and will comprise of townhouses and apartments for over-55s in addition to other facilities such as restaurants, shopping, a medical centre and cinema. A smaller version of the club would be retained. The development which will be referred to as a urban village will be located on the Erindale site owned by the group which currently hosts its headquarters.

In a statement John McGrath president Vikings Rugby Club said

This is an idea we have floated with the government and they are somewhat supportive, but that support is predicated on community support.

The ACT government recently gave its approval to release 200 pokie machines to the Canberra Casino, after previous rejection of 500 pokie machines, a move that the clubs fear will harm the clubs’ revenues significantly. The total number of pokie machines legally approved to operate in Canberra is close to 5,000.

The major operators of these pokie machines are the Vikings with 715 machines, followed by the Southern Cross Club with 620 machines, the Raiders with 528 machines and finally the Labor Clubs with 503 machines.

Canberra Vikings Group has also developed a plan to build a 2000-capacity stadium in Greenway requiring an investment of $18 million to replace the existing Erindale oval and has approached the government for the necessary land.

Vikings Group chief executive Anthony Hill said that the redevelopment plan was still in its early stages and was conceived out of the recognition that clubs need to change. He said that the club group had reviewed whether their property was being utilized to the fullest and had decided develop an alternate plan when they discovered that it wasn’t being used to its full potential.

Hill stated that the club group would be completely transparent with plans regarding the proposal with the community. Sydney-based consultancy The Hornery Institute has been hired to manage communication regarding the plan with the community.

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