Call for Essendon to ditch Melton pokies revenue


Liam McNally

Essendon supporters have created a new organisation to voice their opposition to Essendon Football Club’s poker licence investment in Melton and Essendon.

No Pokies at Essendon (NoPE) has formed in protest of the 190 poker machines Essendon Football Club owns the licence to across Melton Country Club and Windy Hill in Essendon.

NoPE launched its website on May 22, which invites supporters to sign an open Letter calling on Essendon Football Club to publicly commit to exiting the poker licence industry.

NoPE president Mike Read said Essendon supporters have “come together to say it’s time to get rid of Essendon’s 190 pokies licences”.

“This new organisation will work towards driving this change,” he said.

From July to December last year, $4.38 million was spent on poker machines at the Melton Country Club, out of $45.68 million spent across the municipality, according to data from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCC).

In a statement NoPe said that gamblers have lost $154 million across the two Essendon-licensed venues since 2010.

“This represents an increasingly significant social harm that the Club is causing to two local communities,” NoPe said.

“Put simply, the revenue Essendon is raising from pokies is coming from the social and financial misery of disadvantaged people.

“As community expectations have changed, six of the 10 Melbourne-based AFL clubs have gotten rid of their poker licence investments. Essendon have a choice to make; their gaming licences, or their social licence.”

Essendon Football Club said in a statement “the reality” is that given the transition out of COVID, the club is still reliant on the revenue generated from gaming machines and any decision on the long-term future of our venues will need to be “carefully considered” by the board.

“The financial stability and independence of the club is paramount, and we won’t compromise that by making a rushed short-term decision,” it said.

The open letter had more than 200 signatures at the time of writing.