EYE-BALL’s Herman on – The Predator …

July 24, 2011
Herman O'Hermitage
Title:
The Predator …
By: Herman O’Hermitage

Herman O'Hermitage
Today we celebrate Cadel Evans triumph in the Tour de France, and Australia can equally bask in the victory over the Yarpies in the opening match of the Tri Nationsof international rugby. We can only wonder who might win this year’s accolades in sport, but it will be hard to go past Cadel Evans.

Two weeks ago, Phil Gould ran an article in the Sun Herald on poker machines basically on how Rugby League needs them. Last Sunday the first three letters to the editor, each wanted to chastise Mr Gould for his lack of logic and decency. The first complaint likened Mr Gould to Tony Abbottfor his lack of building an argument, rather building his argument on the evocative alone.

Australia has a character of being opinionated and single mindedness – the Ugly Australian. That was highlighted by Yoda (Vale Yoda, God bless his soul). Mr Gould made a public apology on the Footy Show last Sunday and promised “no more politics”.

The saddest part is that Mr Gould has hitched his wagon to the Panthers express, and when you continue to examine the Penrith Rugby League Club – its is not hard to come to some very defining observations. The statistics on poker machines show that 11 clubs take excessively from their communities. I do not know which those 11 clubs are but by accounts Penrith is the worst.

I simply set out an excellent example via a letter sent to Burwood RSL and many State Government politicians in March 2010 – That letter appears below:

Dear Sir,

The following is set out for your consideration, regarding the ongoing debate of the social justice of poker machines. We all know poker machines are discretionary spending and we also know that too often they prey on the already disadvantaged.

Today I received a concise set of Financial Accounts for the year ended December 31, 2009 from the Burwood RSL Club Limited (ABN 49 000 975 646). It shows Profit attributable to members of $4,265,552 after the comparative number last year of $4,145,141.

It is a concise set of accounts and therefore it is difficult to really extract much hard data. In 2009 it sets out Gaming Machine Tax of $5,662,352 and for 2008 $5,450,916. Quickly donations were $578,282 (2009) and $540,292 (2008) and Income Tax $237,312 (2009) and tax Benefit $336,263 (2008).

The Gaming Revenue was $22,648,142 (2009) and $21,853,205 (2008) and raffles are not listed separately. I can only assume that is after players claims for jackpots etc.

There is one other major expense item that should be highlighted before attempting to draw my point. It is Marketing and Promotions of $3m each year.

My issue is;

Why is it OK for a registered club to consistently take so much from the community, particularly where the original legislation was to create such a capital pool only to give to sporting associations and other charities which include sub branch and member facilities?

The club had cash of just under $8m at end 2009 and $10m plus at end 2008.  During the year they bought the old Burwood Council Library site, and trying to make any sense out of investing activities is difficult – but they also list Investment Property of $21,672,917.

In a perfect world where any entity needs to consistently draw such capital out of the community as a not for profit organisation that is restrained from paying dividends – then Burwood RSL Club may operate within legislation but hardly within the spirit of that legislation.

I realise you are all very busy people with much interest in your own individual constituents issues but as we move forward such abuses should be addressed.   I hope the independents do not mind being copied as I do not really believe in 2 party politics. Further 2 party politics is the seed of corruption.

The response of the then Minister for Racing and Gaming, Mr Graham Greene was simply ask Burwood RSL that.   They were asked and they did not respond.

There is a fellow here in Sydney named Paul Bendat – (please see his web site PokieWatch.org). I would like to nominate him for his good work, and tag him as Australian.  He runs a private campaign against poker machines.  He joins clubs simply to get their annual reports and hence follow their greed to mount a campaign for social justice.

Yours Sincerly …..

The following is the response from Mr Paul Bendat;

My apologies in not responding sooner.

I am totally interested in what you are doing. It closely parallels my own actions. I’ve been to the Burwood RSL. Although I have not joined that club, I try to track their financial performance as much as I am able and will be revising my figures as a result of your email.

It always seems that the people or companies with the poorest track records are the same as the people who attempt to close down public debate.

Questions were closed when pokie questions were raised at the last Woolworths AGM. While I doubt that there will be anything written about it, I would like to forward your email to a reporter at the SMH for background.

Is this OK? In any event, I would like to know what happened on Tuesday.

As a member of the Burwood RSL, I believe that it is within your rights to ask for a full financial statement rather than those bs ‘concise’ statements.  If I get the time, it is my intention to request such details from the clubs I have joined and eventually add them as a new section on the PokieWatch.org web site.

Please keep me informed of your actions and copy me on any correspondence as you see fit. As a patron of a pokie club, I believe that Minister Greene is compromised and I am particularly interested in his reactions.

Although the Lateline report was terrific, I did not have the time to make my real point being that clubs should be kept to the same standards of minimising the harm from pokie gambling as NSW pubs – and – that the key recommendation of the draft Productivity Commission report should be adopted for all – i.e. $1 button push / $120 per hour loss limit / $20 cash acceptor maximum.

While this article uses the Burwood RSL as example it is aimed at all those shameless people who prey upon poker machine addicts. Why do we have one standard for those who prey upon drug addicts, and another for those who prey upon poker machine addicts?

The above example makes it clear why both the NSW and Victorian governments have signalled their intention to mount a High Court challenge to any Federal legislative initiative on curbing the predatory behaviours of the poker machine industry.

There are too many strands in all of this.  Many clubs are truly struggling and their social contribution is immense. If you consider Bowling Clubs, they require about $250,000 pa to maintain 3 bowling lawns. Their patronage tends to be retirees, and they close consistently because of dwindling patronage. At times their land is worth immense sums.

I do not buy for one moment the argument about subsidised food or alcohol.  Far too many clubs do not subsidise food or alcohol at all. It is, if at all, part of attracting poker machine players, a business model.

Junior sport and surf clubs, does not exist merely on the largesse of the poker machine lobby.  From the above example Burwood RSL is giving less than 15% of retained profit to charitable or social groups. Just as importantly social sport in America or Britain is not dependent on poker machines.

I am lead to believe that Clubs NSW has now assumed the funding of Veterans (RSL) Sub Branches. That can be many things, but makes you wonder why? There was lack of consistency between sub branches in days bygone. Could it just be another PR exercise?

As we all bask in the immense glory of Cadel Evans and nominate him as Australian, is it possible we also could reflect on all those Australians who still hold true to social justice and deny the predators. If Australia could aim some of the energy expended in sporting achievement into social justice, this country could truly be as great as we all want to believe it is.

________________________________

Herman …

Links to Previous Post by this Author …

24th July 2011 – The Predator … Herman O'Hermitage
21st July 2011 – Democrazy… Part V – The art of using smokescreens. Herman O'Hermitage
20th July 2011 – Democrazy… Part IV – The Dirty Digger at the parliamentary inquest. Herman O'Hermitage
13th July 2011 – Democrazy… Part III – The Italian Sovereign Debt Crisis, the IMF and your superannuation. Herman O'Hermitage
12th July 2011 – Democrazy… Part II – The News of the World Scandal. Herman O'Hermitage
10th July 2011 – Death and Taxes Part III – the Carbon Tax Detail – Why is the devil always in the detail. Herman O'Hermitage
4th July 2011 – DEATH and TAXES – Part II – Efficiency in Government . Herman O'Hermitage
30th Jun 2011 – Death and Taxes – who pays the PENNY man. Herman O'Hermitage
28th Jun 2011 – Democrazy… Herman O'Hermitage
26th Jun 2011 – Canberra Comment… Herman O'Hermitage
24th Jun 2011 – Materialism… Herman O'Hermitage
18th May 2011 – The Solar Electricity Debate… Herman O'Hermitage
6th May 2011 – The Assassination of BIN LADEN – the urban myth begins… Herman O'Hermitage
4th May 2011 – “Un-Australian.com.au” – on what being Australian means… Herman O'Hermitage
18th Apr 2011 – Asset Inflation – Herman O’Hermitage takes it to task … Herman O'Hermitage
9th Apr 2011 – POWER – in the Political sense – or Fuelling Industry? Herman O'Hermitage
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  1. July 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Herman …

    The Poker machine debate is a ranchet debate for many reasons – from my perspective it is the mindless waste of monies by those least able to afford the spend – or put another way – the bloodsuckers – [CLUBS] – are taking advantage of a human weakness and are just providing a more entertaining environment inwhich to entice patrons into thinking they are getting better value for their spend.

    The whole dependency of State and Federal Governments on the gambling revenue – and the Clubs survival argument – all become samantics in that they are just spounging off a societal weakness and abetting its advance – when in many regards they should perhaps be looking at ways to wean Australians off their gambing habbits.

    Lets face it – gambling via poker machines is a lonely existance – there is no commaradie involved – very little skill needed – and it does not take any intelligence to do it – it has become a substitute means for cashing in a life – and a means of avoiding life’s reality for many people facing a life in crisis. It is also represenative of so many other reasons and causes why patrons see a need to sit and interface with a machine – a pretty in a ‘eye-candy’ way machine – who takes their money while they drink their sorrows away … how easy do you want to make it – both for the collector and the patron paying the cost of his habbit …

    Patrons might very well as an alternative be asked to make a tax deducatable annual donation – and get the benefit directly – without State Tax revenues getting their slice … but that then would still leave to entertainment and drinking void …

  2. GHOST of yoda
    July 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I read this article and I thought, who is bothering to take the other side. Obviously no one when you see the lack of comments on any of the topics that gets raved about.

    This particular article on Poker Machines is a good example of the ignorance and bias of views expressed. Not because the cause is “just” – just because the cause is waylaid and blamed on the clubs.

    The psyche of the gambler or the machine user needs to be understood. Any true gambler will tell you that you will never win playing machines, then why do it? Socially they are happy to lose their money for the prospect of being socially involved.

    Let me tell you that you could change the profit margin down to 1% and the gambler will still lose their money, they will just extend their time in the club and they will have to keep the clubs open longer hours.

    By the way the turnover will go up and Herman’s bleaters will go up with another cry of social injustice!

    Gaming revenue is a subject of turnover and the numbers espoused are highly misleading.

    I suspect that Herman is a closet “greenie” as he thinks deep down if he can have more people acting miserably, then he can feel good about it being for a good cause!

    The difference between supplying drug addicts and pokie gamblers is the law, or doesn’t anyone in the “goodie” corner know this! “Gawd” I suppose we have nicotine next on the agenda!

    If you are going to criticize the clubs you have to therefore criticize the management.

    Face value management on the basis of profit and accumulated wealth for the clubs and its members who they represent, must being doing a good job!

    The answers, my little wowser friends are not where you believe they are. I notice on many occasions people like you want to change laws and rules, as soon as something does not suit them. Here we go again!

    You say you represent the anti poker machine lobby, I say I represent the right of good management and the right to manage within the law. If you want to change this, then organise a ticket for your organisation to go to club meetings represent a change in wealth distribution and let people get on with it.! That my goofie wowsers then becomes a democratic decision. All though we all know you will not let that happen, because you know better! Don’t you!

    Take on social reform by all means, but do it constructively, not destructively!

    Ghost of Yoda

    MODERATORS NOTE: The above comment has been moderated – all personal attacks have been removed. Some might label that censorship, the MODERATOR deems it proprietary. ROBUST debate is encourage via varying perspectives and respectful commentary that adds to the value of the debate. Degenerative and personal affront are not. Please – if you find this inappropriate or too confronting to comply with – then don’t post your comment.

  3. Herman
    July 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Wowser is an acronym for WE ONLY WANT SOCIAL EVILS REMOVED. On that score I will be happily labeled a wowser.

    Management is doing a good job, by accumulating a capital pool but the question remains to the benefit of who? You do not have shareholders, only members, and the intent of the legislation is to support local social benefit, which includes member’s facility. Too often the capital pool is abused by management, and that was the conclusion of the Moffatt Royal Commission conducted over 3 decades ago, the club industry attracts the underworld figures.

    Finally the question that burns, the legislation might be in need of review, that is up to society and particularly government. State Government. As the debate unfolds, will the forces of evil (this underworld) have greater lobbying power in the debate? It crosses over to several other areas of social justice.

    If I am a wowser, then is it also Ok to deduce that Ghost of Yoda is indeed a predator.

  4. July 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Ghost of Yoda #2 –

    Your comment re – “If you are going to criticize the clubs you have to therefore criticize the management.” – is naive in the extreme – unless you of course mean ‘management’ to be Political Management.

    The Club Management are looking out for their Members and operate witin the rules – Herman’s post concerns the way the Clubs are using the proceeds from the POKIES – as well as how the Clubs are preying on the addictive gambler as a means to cover their Club’s operating costs.

    Simply – the reliance on Gambling revenues by State Governments is a blight on social management – the Management you pot or ask about is Political Management and the ease in which they have become reliant on Poker and other forms of wagering – to balanc ethere ever increasing spending requirements.

    The Club Industry in tandem with Governments have only pursued which has been made easy for them to pursue – changing the Poker Machine betting limits and proceedures to curb the ‘desperates’ is a half-ass measureat best – the revenue seed is too far entrenched –

    The current legaslation being proposed is about the giving Wilkie the illusion that he has made a difference – but really – if they close down the poker machine rort – the gamblers will find some other way to spend what they can’t afford to lose …

    EYE-BALL …

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