Saints have each-way punt on pokies

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Saints’ new old home: St Kilda FC is heading back to Moorabbin as part of a redevelopment of Moorabbin Reserve after ditching its Seaford base. Picture: Gary Sissons

Saints’ new old home: St Kilda FC is heading back to Moorabbin as part of a redevelopment of Moorabbin Reserve after ditching its Seaford base. Picture: Gary Sissons

ST KILDA Football Club has pledged to protect young people “from the risks of gambling” by signing Victoria’s responsible gambling charter but will keep pokies at its soon to be redeveloped Moorabbin headquarters which will also house training facilities for junior footballers.

The AFL club, set to receive $13 million of ratepayers and taxpayers’ money from Kingston Council ($5 million) and the state government ($8 million) respectively, to help build state-of-the-art facilities at Moorabbin Reserve was one of three clubs to sign the charter last week for the first time.

The Saints joined newcomers Essendon and the Western Bulldogs in signing up to the charter to “join forces” with Hawthorn, Collingwood, North Melbourne and A-League soccer team Melbourne Victory “to spread the word about responsible gambling”.

St Kilda FC spokesman Luke Holmesby said the AFL club is working to finalise plans for the $28 million redevelopment of its Linton St base after deciding to return its headquarters to Kingston from Seaford.

“Under these plans, gaming machines will remain but the redevelopment allows us to work with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to ensure we are best practice and that we adopt their guiding principles,” Mr Holmesby said.

The Saints will relinquish all existing sponsorship deals with gambling organisations at the end of this month as part of the responsible gambling charter’s conditions.

Mr Holmesby confirmed an associate sponsor agreement with bookmaker Ladbrokes “as ball sponsor” will end this month but declined to put a figure on the deal, saying the club does not discuss the commercial terms of any of their corporate partnerships.

In a media statement released last week the Labor state government and Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation praised the three AFL clubs, including St Kilda, for committing to the responsible gambling charter during Gambling Awareness Week (12-18 October).

“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to reducing gambling related harm in our community,” Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Jane Garrett said.

“This charter will help to reduce the exposure of young people to gambling through sports and better educate fans, players and members about the risks of gambling.”

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation CEO Serge Sardo said: “The charter is the centrepiece of our Gambling’s not a Game program, which encourages sporting clubs to educate members, officials and fans about the risks of gambling and to promote responsible gambling.

“This is not an anti-gambling message. It’s a commitment to minimising the exposure of gambling advertising and gambling culture on young people.”

The government statement also read: “Where participating clubs own or operate poker machines, they also commit to promoting the Gambler’s Help venue support program and help services.”

Kingston mayor Cr Geoff Gledhill has said ratepayers money will not be used to renovate the gaming area of the Moorabbin Reserve redevelopment and he believes council’s contribution means it can have a say in minimising visitors’ exposure to pokies in the licensed area of the venue.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 21 October 2015

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