A Browns Bay Bowling Club Special General Meeting on 1st February (2018) will vote on plans to reinstate poker machines as the East Coast Bays RSA takes up residency at BBBC after an initial six-month trial period ended successfully in November.
The RSA-BBBC agreement is now permanent with the two clubs operating in the same premises - but as individual entities.
The bowlers removed their five machines six years ago due to falling revenues and facing rising costs including upgrades, higher license fees and other compliance issues after around 30 years with pokies in their club. They would be replaced with up to nine RSA units and installed in a walled-off area in the clubrooms if the SGM accepts the plan.
RSA manager Scott Evans took over the top job in 2015 after management roles at Onehunga and New Lynn bowling clubs. A major fire in the RSA premises the same year was a major blow to the club in both membership and turnover and although the bar and restaurant were open within days other areas were closed for up to 12 months.
Scott said a 2016 report on the RSA financial situation showed expenses were exceeding income and during June of that year membership fell by 400 and debt was rising daily. The RSA Strategic Planning Committee then recommended the club be sold and continue operations under the Sport and Community Facilities Hub being promoted by the BBBC’s then-chairman Tim Preston.
The RSA closed on 30th April last year and its former HQ in nearby Bute Rd was sold recently to the Browns Bay Medical Centre. Membership in the first weeks at the club’s new home with the bowlers is around 850 – down from 1700 a year ago although Scott expects to have around 1200 by March.
BBBC Chairman Glenn Smith (pictured with Scott Evans above) wrote in background notes to members attending the 1st February meeting that the traditional revenue streams of membership fees and bar takings for all New Zealand clubs would suffer downward trends in the future.
“Clubs need to put in place everything possible to attract their own members, affiliated members from other clubs and casual visitors,” Glenn said. “This means providing entertainment and facilities which are attractive to people. With that in mind, gaming revenue was specifically identified in the Browns Bay Community Hub Feasibility Study as a potential source of revenue.”
The RSA proposed that the BBBC would not be financially liable for any expenses directly related to the poker machines’ operation and the RSA would be responsible for items such as gaming duty, electronic monitoring, licensing and service costs as well as machine upgrades, reporting and insurance. Glenn said the BBBC would receive $6000 a year for electricity and clubroom space while the RSA would gain all remaining net profit, estimated at around $10,000 annually.
“This is designed as a no-risk proposal for the BBBC with a guaranteed income and no responsibility for the difficult aspects of gaming machine operation.”