Our planned ice hockey tour of Australia is set to go ahead next year following successful fundraising by team members and their families over the last 6 months. The tour, the first of it’s kind by our ice hockey team will last 4 weeks and cost in the region of US$40,000, and will include stops and games in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. This is great news for the team and its support staff, and we can all be proud of their achievements.
We are certainly very excited to be making the trip to Queensland on Australia’s east coast and have a number of ice hockey games scheduled in against a number of high caliber opponents. Yet it was with disappointment that in researching and preparing the tour itinerary that I came across an article in the Brisbane Times concerning the relaxation of Queensland gambling laws. Whilst this is no way effects the tour, on a personal note it does surprise and disappoint me in equal measures that a country as great as Australia continues to actively encourage gambling amongst it’s population. In particular there appears to be an over reliance at the grass roots sports club level on revenue derived from poker machines.
In this particular case, the Queensland government has stated that it is preparing to relax legislation relating to Aussie pokies, a move which is part of an attempt by the government to reduce the red tape and accompanying bureaucracy. The move will see the maximum number of pokies allowed in Queensland clubs increased from 280 to 300, and plans are also afoot to remove the geographical restrictions that have to date attempted to enable a more even distribution of poker machines across Queensland. What has this to do with ice hockey and our tour you may well ask?
Don’t get me wrong, I think Australia is a wonderful country, but it certainly appears that there is an over reliance on gambling revenue by both State and Federal governments. In fact, on a previous visit to Australia it became increasingly apparent that a number of sporting clubs across the country were financially reliant on the profit that electronic gaming machines such as pokies bought to the club. And it isn’t just small town local teams that are effected by this blight. A number of professional sporting outfits from a range of sports as diverse as golf, Australian Rules Football and soccer are effected. I read with interest a recent article published in Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper, which reports that the newly established Gold Coast Sun’s AFL team were investigating funding options and that whilst they had yet to consider a move into the Queensland gaming market that there were certainly a number of Victorian based teams that generated considerable sums of revenue from this controversial industry.
And therein lies the problem. The impact of gambling with Australia effects all levels of society and its disappointing to see it effect grass roots sport. With that said it’s all the more reason we should be proud of our own ice hockey team and the support of their families and friends in raising the necessary funds for our tour of Australia.