The Sun-Herald has drawn attention to the increase in the number of NSW clubs and RSLs using Site Compatibility Certificates (SCC) to get approval for retirement villages, aged care, childcare centres and hotels as the clubs look to move away from poker machines as a source of profits.
The piece reveals that while just four clubs applied for a SCC between 2009 and 2015, 22 clubs have applied to build seniors’ housing using SCCs since 2016.
Major developments include the 96-unit Watermark Freshwater luxury retirement village (pictured) at Mounties’ $160 million development at Harbord Diggers, Club Willoughby’s planned $95 million co-located development, and Castle Hill RSL’s huge proposed 400-unit development.
A ClubsNSW spokesman said reports by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and the McKell Institute recommended clubs provide social services such as childcare and aged care because of their sizeable facilities and community networks.
“Over the past decade or so, clubs have built much-needed community infrastructure, such as childcare centres, aged care and seniors living facilities, cancer centres and doctors’ surgeries, as well as commercial office towers and hotels,” he said.
“Clubs are filling a gap with these projects, which otherwise would not be built. Many of the clubs who have embarked on a diversification strategy have experienced a marked reduction in their reliance on gaming revenue.”
But economist and former treasury official Betty Con Walker, who wrote book Casino Clubs NSW, said many of the states are simply growing their coffers using tax concessions originally granted to help serve their communities.
“Club spending on aged care homes and other services is indicative of the hugely profitable gaming machine businesses they operate,” she said.