Hawks 'claim pokies revenue as benefit' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks 'claim pokies revenue as benefit'

05/10/2008 06:58:12 AM Comments (0)

Cashed-up premiership team Hawthorn has paid itself almost $2 million in revenue from its poker machine club - and then claimed it as a community benefit.

Fairfax newspapers say the triumphant Hawks - along with other AFL clubs that own poker machine venues - have been exploiting a legislative loophole that allows them to claim a smorgasbord of venue expenses and running costs as community benefits.

In total, Hawthorn claimed that last financial year it pumped $3.3 million of revenue from its poker machine venue, Vegas at Waverley Gardens, back into the community.

However, analysis of the payments shows only $3,058 - or 0.1 per cent - was for genuine community gifts or sponsorships unrelated to running the business, Fairfax says.

The extent to which Hawthorn has manipulated its ethical obligations to the community as an owner of a poker machine venue was revealed last week when it lodged its community benefit statement with Victoria's gambling regulator.

The $1.9 million payment, to "subsidise football operations", was listed as a community benefit. It is all the more curious as records show that Hawthorn made no such claim last year, Fairfax says.

A spokesman for the Hawthorn Football Club said the club was busy conducting its Best and Fairest on Saturday and declined to comment.

The club - which also claimed the community had benefited from the purchase of nine televisions and monitors and a calculator - has come under fire from anti-gambling groups after winning approval in July to operate 80 poker machines in the economically repressed Caroline Springs in Melbourne's west.

A Monash University analysis of community benefit statements lodged by the AFL clubs that own gambling venues found they contributed $15.6 million to the community last financial year. But only 4.1 per cent of claims were for genuine charitable or benevolent purposes - the rest was for ongoing costs of venues such as wages, electricity, cleaning, rent and repairs.

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