Frequently Asked Questions

Clubs across the ACT were built by the Community. They were built by football clubs, ethnic based organisations or like minded individuals who wanted a place to meet, have fun and ultimately raise funds for their community.

The club industry exists to support local communities and Canberra clubs have been doing this for over 90 years!

ACT clubs are not-for-profit organisations which plough profits back into the community. They play a vital role in the social and economic fabric of our community and help define our city’s culture.

Clubs are important to every one of us.

Clubs across the ACT hold over 200 000 memberships.

Clubs are not-for-profit organisations. Club members volunteer to run for positions on the Board a club. Members are eligible to vote at Annual General meetings to elect the Directors. All Directors roles are held by volunteers who are acting in the best interests of the Club.

The Board is responsible for the appointment of paid staff - senior management etc, as well as the financial position of the organisation.

Board members are heavily involved in all major business decisions including community contributions, infrastructure development for the community and investment and diversifying of business.


Clubs differ from commercial enterprises such as hotels both in structure and in focus. Clubs are non-profit, mutual associations and are prohibited from distributing surpluses to individuals.

As members of a mutual organisation, club members contribute to a common fund that is controlled by the group for the common benefit. However, members have no property rights to their share of any surplus that may arise in the common fund.

Accordingly, surpluses are not distributed to members as dividends, but rather are reinvested in the club, paid out in taxes and distributed to community programs and charities. Their primary aim is to provide goods and services to their members, not on maximising shareholder return.

Clubs offer activities based on and in response to a community need. They may not be positioned in prime commercial locations as they prefer to locate where there is a community need that is not being fulfilled by private businesses. Because clubs respond to community needs rather than corporate return, they often are the source of key investment in local capital expenditures such as sporting infrastructure.

Clubs provide a wide range of services and benefit to the Canberra community.

Clubs provide inclusive, social environments where people of all backgrounds can meet, relax, dine, exercise, play sport and enjoy cultural activities of all kinds.

There are over 1,700 people directly employed in Clubs. Clubs provide entertainment facilities, manage and maintain recreational and sporting infrastructure and we provide the community with millions of dollars of support every year.

Canberra clubs donated $125 million in the last decade to over 1,000 community organisations.

Almost 80% of all goods and services purchased by Canberra clubs are sourced locally within the ACT.

The ACT has less clubs than every other State and Territory, yet employ more people per club than every other State, except NSW.

Of the 1,700 people employed by clubs in the ACT.

• 66% are 18 to 24

• 66% are 25 to 40

• 66% are 41 to 60

• 66% are over 60

• 66% are women

• 66% are men

In 2020 alone, gross expenditure by Canberra clubs was about $200 million with over $86 million paid in wage, salaries and payments to contractors. This pours millions of dollars back into the Canberra economy every year and generates substantial flow-on economic activity and employment in secondary industries such as food and beverage supply, entertainment, tourism, construction, cleaning, security, IT, sport and recreation, and business services such as accountants and financial providers.


Although women represent 50.5 per cent of population of Canberra, there is still a work to do before equal representation of women on boards is achieved. ClubsACT actively works with its member clubs to influence outcomes that will increase opportunities for women.

In 2019, ClubsACT established a Women in Clubs network to advocate for increasing the number of women in all roles within our clubs by increasing awareness of these opportunities for women in the industry. The role of the network is to foster the professional development of women to maximise retaining high performers and assisting women to achieve their full potential.

Since the Women in Clubs establishment, ClubsACT has made alterations to its Constitution and adopted a gender target (30% of either gender), in addition the Association supports the Audrey Fagan Board Traineeship Program.

ClubsACT is an affiliate partner of Women in Gaming & Hospitality Australasia.


ACT clubs nurture a diverse array of local talent and provide significant opportunities for entertainers and bands to advance their talents. Clubs are also notably enormous providers of live entertainment in Canberra and spend over $1.2 million live music.

This figure is nearly double the contribution of the ACT bars and hotels, and represents nearly half of all money spent on live music.

Canberra clubs continue to foster Canberra’s music scene however as clubs close the overall spend on live music in Canberra has reduced over time.

Canberra clubs play vital role in fostering sport for all ACT residents… from the youngest teams through to the Masters. Clubs provide accessible, inclusive and positive environments to encourage participation in sport and sporting activities that improve the wellbeing of the community.

Canberra clubs have donated more than $150 million to local sport teams and sporting infrastructure since 2000.

In the ACT, two thirds of Canberra’s clubs provide their members with sporting facilities and collectively there is over $500 million of assets under management. This highlights the importance of clubs in providing the community with sporting and recreational facilities.

Although members pay for the use of these types of sporting facilities, the charges are often below the full cost of provision. The difference, however, is made up from income earned from other parts of clubs’ operation. Across clubs at large, the total charges for providing these sporting facilities do not cover the costs of provision. Sport plays a vital role in the community by providing a means for individuals to become more physically active, and to establish social networks within their community.

Locally the infrastructure supported by clubs is as follows:

• 6 golf courses;

• 1 tennis facility;

• 1 hockey centre;

• 1 basketball stadium;

• 3 cricket fields;

• 1 yacht club;

• 1 race track;

• 1 bmx track;

• 5 football fields; and

• 17 bowling greens.

Clubs provide a range of other facilities including meeting rooms, accommodation, childcare facilities, gyms, and playgrounds. Clubs contribute to the health and well-being of Canberrans, and their existence encourages participation in a diverse range of sports.

Currently the ACT Government grants program to grass roots sports is approximately $2.5 million by comparison the clubs contribution to sport is valued at around $6 million annually.

Canberra clubs agree that any level of problem gambling in the community is concerning and the industry is committed to providing a range of proactive harm minimisation measures to reduce it further.

ACT Clubs are committed to reducing the prevalence and impact of gambling harm and have been active in developing and implementing responsible gambling programs.

Problem gambling is not on the rise and prevalence surveys undertaken across various jurisdictions demonstrate that the ACT has a low rate of problem gambling. The ACT also has the lowest spend on poker machines as a percentage of household disposable income.

Our objective is to find a balance which allows people the right to gamble while minimising the potential for harm to the community – involving shared responsibility between the industry, governments and gamblers themselves. We strongly support gaming policy settings based on evidence and the principle of shared responsibility.

ClubsACT initiatives:

• A contributing member of the Gambling Harm Advisory Committee

• introduced a best practice gambling harm

• exploring facial recognition

All clubs in Canberra contribute 0.75% of Gross Gaming Machine Revenue in addition to 0.4% of Net Gaming Machine Revenue to the Gambling Harm If you’re concerned about your own gambling or you’re worried about a family member or friend’s gambling, the ACT Gambling Counselling and Support Service can help


A list of the remaining club sites follows:

• ACT Rugby Union Club Turner

• Ainslie Football and Social Club

• Australian-Croatia Club

• Austrian Australian Club

• Belconnen Bowling Club

• Belconnen Soccer Club McKellar

• Burns Club

• Canberra Bowling Club

• Canberra Club

• Canberra Deakin Football Club

• Canberra Irish Club

• Canberra Racing Club

• Commonwealth Club

• Eastlake Calwell

• Eastlake Football Club Griffith

• Eastlake Gunghalin

• Federal Golf Club

• Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club

• Harmonie German Club

• Hellenic Club of Canberra

• Hellenic in the City

• Labor Club Belconnen

• Labor Club Charnwood

• Labor City Club

• Labor Club Weston

• Magpies Belconnen Golf Club

• Mawson Club

• Murrumbidgee Country Club

• National Press Club of Australia

• Polish White Eagle Club

• Raiders Belconnen

• Raiders Gungahlin

• Raiders Weston

• Royal Canberra Golf Club

• Southern Cross Club Jamison

• Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong

• Southern Cross Club Woden

• Southern Cross Yacht Club

• Spanish Australian Club

• Tradies Dickson

• Vikings Chisholm

• Vikings Erindale

• Vikings Lanyon

• Vikings Town Centre

• Yowani Country Club


Clubs in the ACT are contracting, in fact seven clubs have closed since 2015. Broadly speaking the clubs that have closed have had annual poker machine revenues less than $1 million. More than 30 clubs have closed since the early 2000s.

    • Akuna Club

    • Belconnen Soccer Club Hawker

    • Braddon Club

    • Brumbies Sports & Social Club

    • Buffalo's Leagues Club

    • Canberra City Bowling Club

    • Canberra Royals Rugby Football

    • Canberra RSL Memorial & Citizens Club

    • Canberra Services Club

    • Canberra Workers Club

    • Capital Golf Club

    • Eastlake Kaleen

    • Fyshwick Sports Club

    • Hungarian Australian Club

    • Italo-Australian Club

    • Magpies City Club

    • Magpies Sports Club Belconnen National Sports Club

    • Serbian Australian Settlers Social & Cultural Club

    • Serbian St Sava Club

    • Slovenian Australian Club

    • Soccer Club of Canberra

    • South Pacific Rugby Club

    • Southlands Sports Club

    • Sports Club Kaleen

    • The Coolabah Club

    • The Downer Club

    • Tradies Woden

    • Tuggeranong Valley Leagues Club

    • West Belconnen Leagues Club

    • West Deakin Hellenic Bowling Club

    • Western District Rugby Union Club

    • Yamba Sports Club


The ACT Gaming Regulatory environment has undergone more than 20 significant changes since the enactment of the Gaming Machine Act 2004. A range of measures have been introduced in the ACT to address gambling harm and to establish a tighter gaming regulatory environment.

Some of these changes are detailed below:

• A prohibition on gaming machine advertising outside gaming machine areas;

• limitations on the display of gaming machine signage (in NSW you will see VIP room signs at pubs, Pokies signs in Victoria);

• limits on note acceptors to $20 ($50 in every other state);

• requirement for responsible gambling information to be displayed in every gaming venue;

• self-exclusion programs;

• licensee led exclusions (a licensee can exclude this does not exist in NSW);

• restrictions on 24-hour gaming

• restrictions on inducements and food and beverage service to gaming areas (can be served drinks in NSW to the machine);

• requirements for gaming machines licensees to provide information to players, such as messaging on gaming machines;

• requirements for large winnings ($1500 ACT vs $5000 NSW) to be paid by cheque or via EFTPOS.

• mandatory staff training;

• prohibition on alfresco gaming (permitted in NSW);

• prohibition on cash facilities (ATM or EFTPOS) in gaming area:

• ATM cash limit restrictions to a maximum withdrawal of $250 per card per day (no restriction in NSW);

• EFTPOS cash limit restriction to a maximum withdrawal of $200 per transaction with a requirement to record the withdrawal of two transactions or more in ACT Government incident reporting system;

• gaming machine numbers were reduced by 1000 in 2019;

• bigger penalties introduced for breaches of the Gaming Machine Act and a new obligation for club directors to reduce gambling harm; and

• Clubs are required to publish their annual reports and disclose their contributions.

These changes, run alongside the growing disparity between ourselves (the ACT) and NSW - our largest and closest competitor - in the provision of gaming.


This was particularly highlighted during the COVID-19 shut down period, during which ACT gaming operations were kept closed for 9 weeks longer than NSW and 5 weeks longer than every other state and territory with the exception of Victoria.

Gaming machine data available from the NSW Office of Liquor and Gaming for June, July and August demonstrated the effect on the gaming machine performance in Queanbeyan whilst the ACT remained closed during COVID-19.

The key take outs from that data are as follows:

• Clubs in Queanbeyan-Palerang were ranked number 1 in the state for net profit per gaming machine for the period June 1 to August 31 2020. This LGA moved from a ranking of 24th for the same period, the previous year.

• Queanbeyan Leagues Club was number 1 in the state for net profit per gaming machine (1045 clubs in NSW).

• Queanbeyan Leagues Club was number 7 in the state for net profit by venue.

• That LGA has a total of 631 machines in 8 clubs which experienced a net profit of $19.9 million or $31,576 per machine (in 3 months).

• The gaming tax paid by the clubs was $4.6 million.

• For the period mentioned, NSW on average increased by 7% on the previous year, whilst Queanbeyan increased 118% on the previous year.

• The numbers above for Queanbeyan-Palerang do not include the pubs.


In aggregate, poker machine revenue in the ACT has been in decline since the mid 2000s and during that period over 30 clubs have closed. In real terms gaming revenues have decreased by over 60 per cent as the following graph illustrates.

On average in the ACT gaming revenue accounts for 60 per cent of a club’s total revenues, however there are a number of clubs taking great strides to diversify their assets and their sources of income. The Canberra Southern Cross Clubs as an example has diversified substantially into health and fitness and gaming revenue is only 40 per cent of overall revenues.

Changes to the Gaming Machine Act 2004 that commenced on 1 July 2019 - Section 54(2) of the Act also requires a licensee to publish the annual report on the licensee’s website and that it can be accessed by the public free of charge. These reports are useful in determining which clubs are more or less reliant on gaming machine operations.