Kyabram Free Press - - NEWS - By Gus McCub­bing

THE Kyabram Club will ask its 3500 mem­bers to “vote pru­dently” when they reach the bal­lot box on Novem­ber 24, as part of a his­tor­i­cal move by Com­mu­nity Clubs Vic­to­ria to mo­bilise its mem­ber­ship base dur­ing the Vic­to­rian elec­tion cam­paign.

One hun­dred and sixty three clubs that op­er­ate elec­tronic gam­ing ma­chines (EGMs), in­clud­ing the Kyabram Club, have voted unan­i­mously to sup­port a CCV rec­om­men­da­tion that clubs should pro­vide ad­vice to their mem­bers about the poli­cies of the con­tend­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties at the state elec­tion.

CCV pres­i­dent Leon Wie­gard said this ini­tia­tive, a first in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s 102-year his­tory, has been prompted by the fact that the gam­ing in­dus­try is un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure and that if fur­ther changes are in­tro­duced to sti­fle gam­ing then the fu­ture of clubs with gam­ing was ques­tion­able.

Kyabram Club man­ager Greg Ryan said the club will com­mu­ni­cate with mem­bers through its so­cial me­dia and mail­ing lists, as well as talk­ing to its 35 em­ploy­ees and thou­sands of cus­tomers.

But Mr Ryan stressed he would not be telling mem­bers how to vote and was in­stead aim­ing to en­sure their vote was an “in­formed one”.

He said he was con­cerned about the “highly emo­tive” in­for­ma­tion be­ing pub­lished by anti-gam­ing groups such as the Al­liance for Gam­bling Re­form.

“We want to in­form our mem­bers of the vi­tal role clubs play in the com­mu­nity and the dire con­se­quences should gam­ing be abol­ished,” he said.

“The catch cry for this cam- paign is ‘Clubs are the Com­muni- ty’, and we are sim­ply go­ing to re­mind our mem­bers and guests of this im­por­tant fact.

“We also want to em­pha­sise that, be­ing a not-for-profit club, all of our in­come is re­turned ei­ther in taxes, rates or back to our com­mu­nity through im­proved fa­cil­i­ties, do­na­tions and em­ploy­ment.

“We bring ex­cite­ment and fun through the to­tal of­fer in hos­pi­tal­ity, func­tions, en­ter­tain­ment and or­gan­ised ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The Kyabram Club to a great ex­tent is the meet­ing place of our great town. It is the so­cial hub for so many of the peo­ple who live in and around the town.”

Mr Ryan said prob­lem gam­bling lev­els have been re­duced to less than 1 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion and while the Kyabram Club could the­o­ret­i­cally ex­ist with­out EGMs, the club’s of­fer to mem­bers would be very dif­fer­ent.

“Em­ploy­ment would re­duce sig­nif­i­cantly, hours of trade would re­duce and all the clubs, char­i­ties and in­sti­tu­tions we cur­rently sup­port would have to find new ways of rais­ing funds,” he said.

“Our of­fer as it is to­day would cease to ex­ist – un­less of course the lo­cals of Kyabram were happy to pay a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in mem­ber­ship fees.

“But there’s then a real risk the club might be­come ex­clu­sive to only those who can af­ford the pre­mium, and we’ll no longer be a club for all of Kyabram.”


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