No More Pokies for Geelong Cats
The Geelong Football Club, also known as the Geelong Cats, is officially out of the poker machine business. The change came earlier this week, when the Australian rules team sold The Brook: Point Cook to the Melbourne Racing Club for a reported seven figures.
What is The Brook: Point Cook?
In case you’re unfamiliar with the location, The Brook: Point Cook is a diverse entertainment venue that offers the following:
- The Coffee Room – Described as an “eclectic café.”
- Two Brothers Bar – Offering live music and sporting events.
- Function Room – Available for rent.
- Playground – Unique entertainment option for kids of all ages.
- The Food Room – Quality restaurant offering everything from lemon pepper squid to porterhouse steak.
The Brook has been integrated with a premium medical complex, and it’s just a stone’s throw from a shopping complex featuring a Woolworths.
Of course, the most popular offering at The Brook: Point Cook is the gaming room. The venue has 80 electronic gaming machines, and it’s all located in one of Australia’s fastest-growing areas for sustained population growth.
Major Changes for Geelong FC
The sale marks a major shift in direction for the AFL club. Less than a decade ago, they were making $4 million annually off of pokies. Now, that number has dropped down to $0.
In fact, they once had 180 pokies spread out across two venues, not to mention various gambling sponsorships. The other 100 machines were located at Kardinia Park, but they were sold off during a stadium upgrade six years ago.
If it were entirely up to the Cats, the sale would’ve been finalized back in early 2020. But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Brook was forced to shut its doors. This caused the deal to stall, but now everything is back on track.
A Change in Attitude
According to Cats chief Brian Cook, “This is a proud day for our club. If you look at our mission, it’s quite obvious gaming doesn’t fit, and if you look at our values, it doesn’t fit in there either.”
He added, “We have a value of being commercial and considered. You need to consider the effect of gaming on all people, not only those who enjoy it and find it as a pastime but also those who get into it in an unhealthy way.”
“That, in the end, was the crunch for us; we didn’t necessarily want to be involved in an activity that had detrimental outcomes to a number of people in the community.”
So what’s next for the Geelong Cats and the money earned from the sale of The Brook? According to Cook, “We decided we’d go into, in the first instance, businesses that are around health and wellbeing.”
This led the club to purchase Geelong’s Gym in Newtown, and an upgrade to the facility is already in the works. Meanwhile, similar business opportunities are being looked into.
In Other Geelong Gaming News
Elsewhere in Geelong, the Waurn Ponds Hotel has been opposed by the council in their efforts to add 11 more pokies. The Greater Geelong council expressed opposition to more pokies in the region. And to show just how serious they are, the council intends to write the Victorian government and ask for the electronic gaming machine cap to be lowered.
At the moment, there’s a cap of 1421 gaming machines for the Borough of Queenscliffe and Greater Geelong. Currently, there are 1357 licenses allocated, with an additional 64 remaining.
The Waurn Ponds Hotel has 70 electronic gaming machines. If they’re successful in their bid, then the number would rise to 81.
Greater Geelong already has the most machines of any region in Victoria. There were total losses of $119 million in 2018-19, with Waurn Ponds Hotel accounting for $6.6 million of that. With the financial and social stresses added by COVID, councillors argue that it’s simply too much.
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