The Returned and Services League (RSL) and licensed gaming go hand in hand, but the winds of change are blowing.
There is now a growing population of younger veterans who believe RSL clubs need to dispense with poker machines and lessen their reliance on gaming revenue.
Among those is Dave Petersen, a former artilleryman who served in Afghanistan and now acts as president of the Camberwell City RSL (pictured).
ALSO READ: ONLINE GAMBLING IN AUSTRALIA
At 32 years of age, he is the youngest person in history to hold that rank at any RSL sub-branch in Victoria.
Petersen leads the younger brigade of war vets who feel too many clubs have strayed from the league’s core values.
“The problem with the big gaming clubs is that they’re focused on drawing in pokie players from the wider community, rather than on looking after veterans,” Peterson told reporters in Melbourne.
“Pokies, cheap parmas and pots for the general punter. That’s what these clubs are about.
“Younger vets look at these clubs and see nothing there for them.”
RSL Victoria embraced the legalisation of pokies machines in 1990, around the time veterans from the Vietnam war were rising to prominence within the organisation.
Nowadays more than 50 of the state’s 250 RSL halls are licensed gaming venues, raking in more than $200 million a year through player losses.
Only the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH), owned by Woolworths, runs a larger pokies operation in Victoria.
Woolies is now under pressure to ditch its gaming assets, while Coles recently offloaded more than 300 machines with the sale of the Spirit Hotels chain.
Melbourne’s major sporting clubs are also under the spotlight, with Collingwood, Geelong and several more AFL clubs divesting themselves of their pokies interests in the past year.
Similar questions are now being asked of the RSL, and Petersen believes the organisation can flourish without the one-armed bandits.
“We see no reason to believe that poker machines provide benefits to veterans that cannot be provided in other ways,” he said.
Petersen is one of several younger members who will stand for leadership positions at the RSL state conference in July.
More Australian gambling news
Young veterans pushing for pokies reform in RSL clubs
A growing number of retired servicemen believe RSL clubs have sold their souls to the pokies and abandoned the veterans they are supposed to support.
Aussie gambler wins over $200k on pokies at Emu Casino
A pokies player from Australia has won over $200,000 over multiple games in an epic session at Emu Casino.
Second Gold Coast casino “unviable”, new report shows
A LEADING research company says the Gold Coast is not ready for a second casino and will make the industry unviable. Results from leading independent...
Farrell family profits jump as Tasmanian pokies monopoly nears end
The annual profit of the Farrell family, who have a monopoly over Tasmania’s poker machine licencing, almost doubled in the financial year. This provides an...
Kahuna Casino announces whopping live dealer winner
KAHUNA Casino might have only been around a few weeks, but it is already on the map by dishing up big winners. The Australian-friendly online...
Latest online casino promotions
Ton up with Cricket World Cup 2019 bonuses at Joka Room Casino
From now until July 15, Joka Room Casino is giving punters the chance to pocket up to $200 bonus cash on every day of the...
Get up to $150 bonus cash every Friday at GunsBet Casino
Want to finish the working week in style? Find out how you can get up to $150 bonus cash when you make a deposit at...
Get up to 300 free spins this Saturday at Wild Tornado Casino
Looking for some extra value this weekend? Log in at WildTornado.com between 2pm and 6pm to unlock as many as 300 free spins on select...
Cash in with Wild Casino’s 100% Reload Bonus every month
Does your bankroll need a bit of a boost? Find out how you can score a 100% Reload Bonus every month at Wild Casino.
Get a 40% bonus up to $100 every Wednesday at SlotsMillion
Feeling fancy? Suit up for Gentlemen's Night at SlotsMillion.com every Wednesday and get a 40 per cent bonus up to $100 on every deposit.