They’re NSW’s dirty dozen: 12 registered clubs that in any other country would be called casinos. Enormous entertainment complexes that between them operate close to seven thousand poker machines, make almost one billion dollars in gambling revenue every year… yet call themselves not-for-profit organisations and enjoy lucrative tax concessions from the state government. They bankroll campaigns to protect their gambling industry, they have the ear of the government and they claim that they’re leading the fight against problem gambling, even while their profits grow… just who are NSW’s dirty dozen?
1. Mt Pritchard & District Community Club (Trading as Mounties)
Poker machines: 603
Revenue (last financial year): $107,393,033
Mounties is the highest-earning poker machine club in the country. They’re also located in the Fairfield City Council area, which has the highest losses in NSW. A double distinction, if you will. Mounties boast of their 4 restaurants and 13 bars, not to mention the gym, the hairdresser or the child minding service… but they don’t say much about their annual 9 digit poker machine revenue.
2. Western Suburbs (Newcastle) Leagues Club
Poker machines: 556
Revenue (last financial year): $101,145,000
Wests in New Lambton is the other $100 million plus pokies club in NSW. Each of their 556 poker machines rakes in $182,000 a year, making them the most lucrative pokies in the state.
3. Bankstown Sports Club
Poker machines: 745
Revenue (last financial year): $86,683,187
4. Canterbury League Club
Poker machines: 695
Revenue (last financial year): $78,228,286
The recently-formed Canterbury-Bankstown City Council has the second highest losses on poker machines in NSW… and is home to the state’s 3rd and 4th highest earning poker machine clubs. Bankstown Sports Club has the distinction of having more poker machines (745) than any other club in the country, while Canterbury League Club is not far behind. Between them they pull in over $160 million in gaming revenue each year.
5. Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic Club
Poker machines: 450
Revenue (last financial year): $75,292,054
The first of two “Catholic” clubs in the Dirty Dozen, Dooleys actually changed their constitution in 2011 to allow them to get political and fight against poker machine reforms.
6. Cabra-Vale Ex-Active Servicemen’s Club
Poker machines: 450
Revenue (last financial year): $68,714,893
Cabra-Vale Diggers is the second Fairfield City Council club on our list. Nothing says “remember our Diggers” like hundreds of poker machines and sheer golden opulence.
7. Penrith Rugby League Club
Poker machines: 610
Revenue (last financial year): $66,754,000
Penrith Panthers is the flagship of the Panthers Group, which expanded to a dozen clubs on the back of poker machine revenue but has shrunk in recent years due to crippling debts and poor management. Their 600+ poker machines keeps this club afloat.
8. Mingara Recreation Club
Poker machines: 481
Revenue (last financial year): $64,382,922
Mingara was the trial site for the controversial “chaplains in clubs” scheme in 2012, which was proposed by Clubs NSW as an alternative to gambling reform. Today the club is the 8th highest earning pokies venue in NSW.
9. Rooty Hill RSL Club
Poker machines: 726
Revenue (last financial year): $55,617,583
Rooty Hill RSL loves the spotlight. They ran an advertising campaign saying they were so big they needed their own postcode, and they regularly host “town hall-style forums” for our leaders during federal elections. They seem far more interested in their Novotel Hotel and their bowling alleys, paid for and subsidised by pokies revenue, than our returned servicemen and women.
10. Parramatta Leagues Club
Poker machines: 520
Revenue (last financial year): $54,177,399
Parramatta Leagues Club has seen its fair share of financial scandals over the years, culminating in the sacking of their board last year for misusing funds to make extra payments to Parramatta Eels players. Despite it all, their 520 pokies have kept them at number 10 in the state.
11. Liverpool Catholic Club
Poker machines: 435
Revenue (last financial year): $52,804,118
The second “Catholic” club on our list. Last year their community contributions were just 3% of their poker machine revenue. The other 97% probably went into their new hotel extension, or their ice skating rink, or maybe even their mini-golf course.
12. Revesby Workers’ Club
Poker machines: 525
Revenue (last financial year): $51,561,890
It was a close call for number 12 in the Dirty Dozen, but Revesby Workers Club just edged out Wentworthville Leagues Club. Revesby Workers has slightly fewer poker machines than Wentworthville Leagues and slightly higher revenue as well, but the deciding factor was that Revesby Workers is in the Canterbury-Bankstown Council area, which (as was mentioned earlier) is the second-highest losing council area in NSW. Revesby’s contribution to that can’t be ignored.
Let’s not forget the clubs that are just outside the Dirty Dozen. Wentworthville Leagues Club, of course, has 541 machines and made $51,146,386 last year. There are three other clubs in the 500+ poker machines category: Western Suburbs League Club (Campbelltown) – 510 pokies; Commercial Club (Albury) – 623 pokies; and Twin Towns Services Club – 596 pokies. The Commercial and Twin Towns clubs deserve special mention for staying alive and continuing to make huge gambling profits even after the spread of poker machines in to Queensland and Victoria made their border-town status largely irrelevant.
Note: Data on gaming machine numbers is © State of New South Wales (Department of Justice) 2017.
For current information go to justice.nsw.gov.au.