Brisbane Racing Club ‘rips off poor people’ – Cr Sri

Councillor Sri from the Gabba ward is not the only person concerned about the Brisbane Racing Club being a ‘blood sucking parasite‘  because they put poker machines in their clubs to ‘rip off poor people’. The local councillor of the Moorooka ward, Steve Griffiths, is also concerned. The Courier Mail reported in March 2018 that “Brisbane City Council has handed BRC a 20-year lease, at $4,332 per annum, for Souths Sports Club (SSC) at Acacia Ridge, home to rugby league and bowls. It also includes an approval to increase the number of pokies machines from 66 to 125, and change its trading hours from 8am to 12am to 8am to 2am.” – CM “Brisbane Racing Club to take over Souths Sports Club with 20-year lease

The local councillor of the Moorooka ward, Steve Griffiths, is also concerned (may be some small errors in the transcript): “

“… (the) Brisbane Racing Club are always telling me what a great—having their inner city site development, we’re making so much money. You think well, if you’re thinking so much money for a not-for-profit then put it back into this little organisation, put it back into this facility here. So I’ve been really disappointed with this outcome. I’m concerned about what it means for our local communities. I’m really concerned that once again we’re seeing poor, disadvantaged kids, whether they’re Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, whether they’re disabled or not disabled, whether they’re from a refugee background, missing out because they’re in an area that the LNP don’t have the Councillor position. So I won’t be supporting this, I’ll be abstaining on this. I just think the effort that we’ve done here is pretty poor and I will keep speaking loudly to Brisbane Racing Club and they certainly know my opinion.”

In a fiery exchange in Council chambers on Tuesday 7th December 2021 this is what Cr Sri had to say about the Brisbane Racing Club:

SPEAKERS

Cr McLachlan – Chair of Council, Cr Adams (Deputy Mayor), Cr Sri for Gabba Ward

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

… arrangement out at Acacia Ridge, but what I do know is that the Brisbane Racing Club is an organization (that) is a sadistic parasite. That’s a

Cr Adams 

… point of order point of order. absolutely disgraceful. And I ask that that is withdrawn, immediately

Cr McLachlan – Chair of Council 

Councillor Sri. You can’t use language like that to describe an organization. Please can you can you withdraw that?

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

I’m sorry Chair. Am I not allowed to express my view in this chamber? I do think that the racing industry is sadistic and parasitic that it profits of the suffering and abuse of animals

Cr McLachlan – Chair of Council 

… councillor can you (stick) to the item us please.

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

I was cut off, but I was also going to add that Brisbane Racing Club our blood sucking vultures

Cr McLachlan – Chair of Council 

Councillor Sri, can you sit down please!

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

the business model used by an organization like Brisbane Racing Club is inherently parasitic 

Cr Adams 

… poker machines are not part of this report.

Cr McLachlan – Chair of Council 

Yes.

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

Yeah. They’re definitely there. And that’s why I’m so angry because this council administration should not be doing deals with companies like this that rip off poor people that screw over working communities sucking money out of their profit,  pockets, so they can buy fancy chairs for the race course in Ascot.

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

That’s really what’s happening here is that wealth is being extracted from a low income marginalized community to prop up a family and business model of us of an industry that doesn’t even deserve the dignity of being described as a sport. This is contemptible what Brisbane Racing Club is doing it -…. they’re getting favorable treatment off Council, free or subsidized real estate off council …. for for a business that shouldn’t even be considered a non-profit. I’ve looked at the details of what this this report is actually asking for. They want to vary their contract. So they have to put less money from the poker machines back towards Council.

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

They say “Aw, the state government’s taxes on poker machines are too high so we can’t afford to give money”. Nonsense. They’re making millions off poker machines … this business of crying poor: ” Aw, we’re the Brisbane Racing club … we can’t afford the the charges.”

Cr Sri for Gabba Ward 

I mean, come on. No one’s buying that. This club has so much money.

Statement by Councillor for the Gabba Ward: This video (below) shows a condensed version of some opinions I shared in council on Tuesday in response to a vote regarding the lease Brisbane Racing Club has been given over council-owned land at 174 Mortimer Rd, Acacia Ridge.

The club has been given a 25-year lease over two football fields, two bowling greens and some sports club buildings (all owned by council), which it is using to generate profit from poker machines.The annual rent the club pays to council for this very large site is just $4 500 (yes, that’s their rent PER YEAR) plus 3% of turnover from the food, drink and poker machine operations they’re running at the site.

In addition, they are required to provide $30 000 per year in sponsorship towards Souths Junior Rugby League Club and spend $200 000 per year on site maintenance. That maintenance money is supposed to go towards making sure the fields are a satisfactory standard for the footy club and wider community to use, but it’s a bit unclear how much is actually spent maintaining the sports facilities vs how much is spent maintaining the restaurant/bar/gambling room.

All in all, it seems like a very good deal for Brisbane Racing Club: They get to operate up to 125 poker machines that are specifically designed to be addictive and to rip off problem gamblers, they get to keep almost all of the profits from the bar and restaurant, and they only contribute a relatively small proportion of their revenue towards rent and site maintenance.

BRC’s 2021 annual reports show $7 million in revenue from ‘Wagering and Gaming’ but doesn’t break that up according to the different gambling activities they operate across their various sites. We do know that for poker machines in suburban clubs, on average, gamblers lose $30 000 to $50 000 per year PER MACHINE. Even if BRC isn’t continually operating all of the 125 machines out at Acacia Ridge, that’s still a lot of money.I find all this particularly objectionable because in addition to a business model that takes money off people with gambling addictions, Brisbane Racing Club is one of Queensland’s prime offenders in terms of facilitating animal abuse through horse racing. A lot of people are obviously making a lot of money off horse racing in Brisbane, yet BRC is still treated as a non-profit entity.I realise some of the language I used to express my opinions on this occasion was quite strong, but I think we need to pay more attention to how harmful poker machines are to communities, and how much suffering horse racing causes. I think the term ‘sadistic’ is a perfectly reasonable adjective to describe the horse racing industry.

Usually my commentary in the chamber is nowhere near this spicy… I was speaking off the cuff and didn’t actually plan in advance to say any of this. But after years of patiently explaining why Brisbane City Council shouldn’t be giving heavily discounted real estate to Brisbane Racing Club to run a poker machine gaming room in a low-socio-economic area, and the LNP completely ignoring those concerns, I was feeling pretty frustrated.Anyway the lease documents that were the subject of this debate are now on the public record, so if you have more questions and want to see a copy, you can email thegabba.ward@bcc.qld.gov.au

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