Clubs under threat
By ANITA HULM
THE NSW government's plans to increase taxes on poker machines is simply unsustainable for the club industry, according to Twin Towns Services Club general manager Rob Smith.
"They (NSW government) are not budging, but everyone can see that we cannot pay," Mr Smith said yesterday. "What is worrying is that we have given them empirical evidence and nothing is changing."
The NSW club industry will hold a crisis meeting on August 2 in Sydney to try and get the government to back down from its plans.
Jobs, and even the survival of some clubs, are at risk, says Clubs NSW.
Clubs NSW outlined a double-whammy for clubs at a meeting at Coffs Harbour yesterday with a decrease in revenue from smokers and an increase in poker machine taxes.
Tweed club representatives attended the meeting.
Clubs NSW says new figures from the NSW Treasury department forecast a 10 per cent drop in poker machine revenue once new anti-smoking laws come into full effect in July 2007.
A survey has revealed that revenue from poker machines in Vic-toria dropped by 20 per cent once smoking laws were changed.
On top of this, the state government will increase poker machine taxes which will see far north coast clubs pay an extra $154 million in tax by 2010.
Clubs NSW president Peter Newell said: "Put simply, you can't reduce income for Far North Coast clubs by at least $130 million and at the same time still expect them to find $154 million more in poker machine tax."
Mr Newell said both of these factors could see the number of people employed at clubs slashed and Clubs NSW has estimated that 1400 jobs could be at risk on the far north coast.
He said the club industry was supportive of the smoking changes "as the community's position on indoor smoking had change considerably over the past few years".
But Clubs NSW would be pushing the government to reduce the amount of tax it hopes to take from the clubs or risk the closure and mergers of clubs across the region.
Mr Smith said the tax increase was totally in-appropriate, particularly when seen with the costs of the anti-smoking changes.
He said Twin Towns had spent $1 million to accommodate smokers at its clubs, with more outdoor area and the reconfiguring of its lounges..
"We need the government to see sense. one can only hope that common sense can prevail," he said.