Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Russell Crowe's distress over pokies - The Daily Telegraph - 13th August 2008

Rabbitohs owner Russell Crowe is distressed at the likely prospect of South Sydney Leagues Club re-opening with poker machines.

In tandem with business partner Peter Holmes a Court, the Hollywood actor launched an impassioned campaign for the licensed club to ban poker machines last September.

The radical proposal will be decided on Sunday, when members gather for Souths Leagues Club's AGM at Redfern Town Hall.

But in a demonstration of how the once-popular idea has lost momentum, officials expect that less than 100 people will turn out to vote.

The leagues club was relying on the Rabbitohs to manage the venue without machines and absorb any collateral damage from $1 million in lost pokies revenue.

But the football club withdrew its support after it was unable to secure parliamentary support to abolish the statutory sign-in desk.

Without a safety net, leagues club chairman Bill Alexiou-Hucker now expects members to vote in favour of pokies.

"We will go with whatever the members decide, but it would be harder without a guaranteed (poker machine) revenue stream," Mr Alexiou-Hucker said.

Crowe is understood to be upset that the proposal is set to be defeated and recently asked for reasons why it had fallen from favour.

Comment - Greg Tingle

There's no doubt that Russell Crowe's heart is in the right place and that he means well. There's a number of commercial realities at stake here. Don't forget, and corporate and public will, South's lost Firepower. No doubt Branson's Virgin Blue was relieved. Australian's and much of the world loves a punt, be it pokies, horse racing, a wager on the boxing, and there days, firms like Virgin, PKR, 888 and others are offering online casinos. Even Warnie's got in on the act. Abroad online casino business has been keeping Calvin Ayre on his toes, but Ayre was in online business, not like James Packer, who recently lost a bundle on a casino deal gone wrong abroad. The Gaming Expo is coming up at Darling Harbour on the 24th August. Don't suppose we will see Russell Crowe or Peter Holmes a Court there, but maybe a few online casino tycoons will show up, and perhaps some Rabbitoh board members also. Wonder if any TAB Corp and Aristocrat brass will show. Rabbitohs, you have South Cares, so ensure the money goes back to the community, and you should be fine. I think the community has faith in The Bunnies to do the right and ethical thing with the profits.

(Credit: Daily Telegraph)

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