The dispute between the chief executive officer of the club industry’s umbrella organization and the state’s second-biggest gaming club was short, sharp, and final. It had taken a long time.
Richard Errington, chief executive of West HQ, the club formerly known as Rooty Hill RSL and then home to 720 poker machines, had stopped paying the club’s ClubsNSW membership dues 12 months earlier, effectively withdrawing West HQ from the governing body.
ClubsNSW structures its membership dues based on game revenue with six fee levels. Clubs with the highest gaming revenues pay around $15,000 in annual fees plus a percentage on revenues over $20 million, effectively subsidizing the majority of clubs paying under $1,000.
But Errington, who was attempting to diversify his club’s revenue streams with a new theater and gymnasium, felt that this model skewed the board’s priorities in favor of gambling and that fees should be based on club membership. A Melbourne-born club industry outsider, he didn’t care if his attitude made him lose friends. “I thought, how can we be a member of an organization whose measure of membership is gaming spend?” Errington said.
Josh Landis, ClubsNSW’s then newly installed chief executive, called him in May 2020 with an ultimatum: pay the fee or else. Errington declined. Landis said that if this happened, ClubsNSW would stop providing services such as COVID-19 updates. And then, according to Errington, came the crucial point. “He said, ‘We need a big club like you going under so we can use you as a political platform with the government,'” Errington said.
It was the last time they spoke to each other. But three years later, ClubsNSW’s campaign against the NSW Crime Commission’s recommendation for mandatory cashless gaming has vindicated his initial perception of the top flight.
“We were at odds from day one,” said Errington, who supports cashless gaming.
“They were interested in games and we were interested in caring for our communities. Will it change the way West HQ moves in the future? No. 15 years from now, gaming will still be part of our entertainment. But I want less money from more people. Right now the industry is mostly focused on making more money from fewer people.”
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-phone-call-that-blew-up-the-pokies-20230309-p5cqrk.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw The call that prompted West HQ to cut ties with ClubsNSW