News State Victoria Collingwood cuts gambling revenue, sells 156 poker machines

Collingwood cuts gambling revenue, sells 156 poker machines

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Eddie McGuire urged others to watch The Final Quarter despite his unflattering role in the documentary. Photo: AAP
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Collingwood has cut ties with the gambling industry, selling its last remaining poker machines.

The AFL club announced on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with Melbourne Racing Club to sell The Coach & Horses in Ringwood and The Club in Caroline Springs.

Together, the clubs have 156 machines and raked in more than $7 million in the six months to December last year.

But president Eddie McGuire said it was a “prudent commercial decision, one that will strengthen the Collingwood balance sheet significantly”.

He said the extensive review of club operations last year provided clarity, a renewed sense of purpose and identified opportunities.

“The decision of the board to sell our gaming operation and some of our hospitality interests will allow us to intensify the focus on our core responsibilities – Collingwood fans, elite sporting performance and community – but also enable us to pursue new and different possibilities for growth.

“Collingwood is in a strong financial position, with net assets of $32 million, and with the continuing support of its members will be in an even stronger position with this sale.

It is the right time for Collingwood to be making this move.”

Settlement is expected in October after all required regulatory approvals have been obtained.

Collingwood was the third-biggest pokies earner of all football clubs last year, earning a total of $12.245 million.

Alliance for Gambling Reform director Tim Costello congratulated Mr McGuire and the board for divesting from the “toxic” industry.

“Well done Eddie. You are a trailblazer who is looking after the battlers and leading by example,” Mr Costello said.

Collingwood’s announcement follows the lead of Melbourne Football Club, which pulled out of the lucrative business earlier this year. Geelong has also reduced its pokies reliance.

Gamblers lost the most money to Hawthorn clubs last year, at $23.29 million, followed by Carlton clubs on $17.6 million.

Mr Costello said focus would now turn to Essendon, calling on it to withdraw a proposal for a new 24-year venue lease at the Melton Country Club.

The Coach & Horses club made $2,489,776 from 90 machines in the six months to December last year. The club made $4,521,400 from 66 machines.

“The sales – and Collingwood’s complete and immediate exits from the gaming industry – are part of a strategic repositioning of the Collingwood business,” a club statement said on Tuesday.

Collingwood will continue running its Glasshouse function and events business at the Holden Centre, where there is no gaming operation.

The club stopped running the Magpie Millions lottery on July 1.

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