RSL jobs at stake

Ipswich RSL Services Club assistant manager Leon Adams is concerned about proposed changes to poker machine laws.
Ipswich RSL Services Club assistant manager Leon Adams is concerned about proposed changes to poker machine laws. David Nielsen

IPSWICH RSL Services Club manager Neil Barlow says he will have to sack half his staff if poker machine reforms are introduced.

The Federal Government plans to adopt mandatory pre-commitment systems to limit the amount of money people can bet on the pokies.

The scheme was part of the Gillard government's deal with independent MP Andrew Wilkie in exchange for his support of the Labor minority government.

Mr Barlow said the restrictions would strangle his club which relied on poker machines to bankroll many community initiatives.

"We're looking at 50 per cent of our trade gone. And that means half of the staff gone as well," Mr Barlow said.

"I employ 28 staff so that means I'll have to sack 14 people. In income terms per week, it's $15,000 gone.

"It's also going to impact on all the community groups we support."

Member for Blair Shayne Neumann is one of the politicians being targeted by Clubs Queensland in a letterbox campaign.

A pamphlet distributed throughout his electorate is headed: "Shayne, why won't you stand up for our community?"

Yesterday, Mr Neumann panned the campaign and slammed the RSL's claims.

"I think they are wrong and they are outlandish and they are reckless and incorrect," he said of the pamphlets.

On the job losses, he said: "We think they are grossly exaggerating their position".

"I think clubs play an important role in the community.

"But at the same time we have a problem with gambling in the community."

He said the government was trying to address that and one way was mandatory pre-commitment.

"It makes people act more responsibly," he said.

"We're not trying to stop people having fun or stopping people from gambling, we're just trying to stop problem gamblers.

"It's part of the agreement Andrew Wilkie has with the government but it's also part of the Productivity Commission's recommendations."

Brothers Leagues Club general manager Mark Hennelly said every club with poker machines would suffer "a significant impact".

"We're the biggest club in Ipswich but we're a community club and all the benefits go back into the club and into the community," he said.

"Every club is going to have to reconsider how much they give - in our case - to rugby league clubs, churches, schools.

"Queensland has been leading the way with responsible gambling practices.

"To legislate against every single person is totally over the top.

"One problem gambler is one too many but I always say everyone should be responsible for their own actions."

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Topics:  clubs queensland federal government poker machines reforms

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