$50 million in projects threatened
TWIN Towns Services Club has mothballed $50 million worth of development amid fears for the club industry's future.
Club general manager Rob Smith said the projects could not go ahead with uncertainty surrounding Federal Government plans to implement a pre-commitment scheme for poker machines.
While Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot said it was premature to comment on costs as the final design of the scheme was not settled, Mr Smith said Twin Towns had to plan ahead for when the scheme was due to come into effect in 2014.
The Twin Towns Services Club board approved a multi-million dollar upgrade to its Tweed Heads facilities, including construction of a convention centre, on the day of the Federal Election.
The decision was quickly overturned and other projects, including a $12 million redevelopment of Twin Towns Juniors were canned when Prime Minister Julia Gillard agreed to implement the poker machine scheme to secure the support of independent MP Andrew Wilkie and form a government.
Twin Towns Services Club, which makes a $1.4 million profit each year, gets 58% of its revenue from gaming, and Mr Smith told the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform last month that if his club lost 20% of that revenue it would have to shut down.
“We cannot afford these changes and continue as we exist today,” he said.
“As a result of the proposal there will be far-reaching implications for the club.”
Mr Smith acknowledged some of that potential lost revenue could come from reduced problem gambling but believed a large number of recreational pokie players would stop participating because gaming would no longer be enjoyable when the pre-commitment scheme took effect.
The club has already put in place austerity measures as it braces itself for a drop in revenue, including redundancies and employing only casual staff.
“Our employees are fearful for their future and that of their families.”
Mrs Elliot said the government would continue to work with the industry to design and implement the gambling reforms.
The use of fingerprints and biometric tracking has been ruled out in the scheme and Mrs Elliot said concessions were being considered for smaller clubs.