$40M VENTURE: Bay RSL to run mega club
THE Hervey Bay RSL will run one of the biggest community clubs in the state after reaching a lease agreement with developers for a $40 million club in Burpengary, north of Brisbane.
While residents have raised concerns about the potential impact of gambling in a low socio-economic area, the RSL's boss has reassured support organisations will be within arm's reach and measures will be in place to mitigate any potential gambling problems.
It follows developer Comiskey Group applying to the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation to put up to 150 gaming machines in the club.
The ambitious development, branded the Burpengary Community Club, will contain a restaurant, cafe, sports bar and a gaming room.
Comiskey are also re-developing a nearby shopping centre as part of their application.
Construction is expected to begin around late 2020.
Speaking to the Chronicle yesterday, Hervey Bay RSL CEO Jason Lynch said the club was looking at opportunities closer to home, but said the Burpengary offer was the best option.
"Under the legislation we are allowed to have three community clubs under our banner," Mr Lynch said.
"Burpengary didn't have a community club, so it was a good opportunity to use a model we run very successfully in supporting the community."
The RSL operates its main club in Pialba and another at the Hervey Bay Golf Club.
Burpengary residents have founded a Facebook group in opposition to the proposed club over concerns the pokies would affect the working class community.
But Mr Lynch said there would be processes in place to refer any cases of problem gambling to support organisations like WeCare2.
He said there would be "steps in place" to mitigate gambling issues.
"There are a lot of processes in place: if people have got problems, we can refer them to those community organisations where they can seek help," Mr Lynch said.
The Hervey Bay RSL maintains a strict self-exclusion policy and regularly donates collected funds, including those raised through gaming, back into the community.
Statistics from the Office of Liquor and Gambling reveal about $5.1 million alone was lost on Fraser Coast pokies last month.
There are about 1300 pokies across the region's licensed venues.