The Collingwood Football Club will no longer be associated with pokies. The bold move was announced on Tuesday by the club’s president Eddie McGuire.
“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,” Maguire said.
North Melbourne is already pokie-free. Melbourne won’t renew their licence when it comes up in a few years and Geelong is expected to do the same.
On the flip side, Essendon is discussing an extension of their licence and Hawthorn is the most profitable when it comes to gaming revenue.
AFL clubs are a business. They are a product. They have to make make money to be able to perform at the highest level.
More revenue means more funds to spend on experts that will give clubs the best chance to raise that coveted trophy come September.
However, part of that brand is the community expectation.
It’s expected clubs are role models for the next generation – both on and off the field.
This means drunken night outs and speeding in cars will make the news alongside anything that happens on the footy field.
There is an expectation that the clubs will volunteer in their communities and give back to those who turn up through winter to watch a match.
People will always play the pokies. We also watched this debate unfold during the state election this year.
We also know the negative impact pokie addiciton can have on an individual, family and community.
Some Tasmanian RSLs have recently removed pokies to make their venues more family-friendly.
The questions club must ask is: do pokies fit in with their core values and purposes. If the answer is no, how can they find other revenue streams or correct finances to lose that income.
Perhaps it’s not a one size fit all policy, but Collingwood should be congratulated for making the change. It’s not the club saying pokies need to be removed from the community, just that they don’t belong in sporting clubs.