Clubs Australia has welcomed a decision by the RSL to reject the mandatory pre-commitment on club poker machines being demanded by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
At the 2011 RSL National Conference earlier this month, the Presidents of every State and Territory RSL agreed to write to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister Jenny Macklin, expressing their concern of the impact mandatory pre-commitment would wreak on Australia’s 471 RSL clubs and sub-branches.
Deputy National President and NSW RSL President Don Rowe OAM wrote in the letter that the $3 billion cost of mandatory pre-commitment would lead to the closure of hundreds of RSL and services clubs across Australia, which in turn would see many RSL sub-branches close.
“RSL sub-Branches which depend on the clubs’ backing would also close, placing in jeopardy the support that many veterans require and threatening the continued observance of ANZAC Day and other commemorations in small rural and suburban communities,” he wrote in the letter.
Clubs Australia CEO Anthony Ball said that RSL clubs provide sub-branches and former defence personal with essential support services such as Veterans Welfare Officers, financial and mental health counselling, as well as excursions for RSL sub-branch members and their partners.
“These clubs provide significant financial support to the community and provide a place for veterans and their families to socialise,” he said.
“The Federal Government needs to realise that their plan to introduce a multi-billion dollar, experimental mandatory pre-commitment scheme will hurt the community, including those who have sacrificed much for this nation.
“The decision of the RSL, an organisation that has traditionally been reluctant to enter political campaigns, to voice its opposition to mandatory pre-commitment, cannot be ignored by the Government.
“The Prime Minister needs to look past the demands of Andrew Wilkie and instead listen to the many well respected community organisations who have publicly stated that giving problem gamblers a licence to punt won’t work,” Mr Ball said.
The Returned and Services League (RSL) of Australia, represents more than 240,000 ex-servicemen and women and their families nationwide.
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