Community Outcry Over Brisbane Racing Club’s Plans for Former Stafford Bowls Club Site

Stafford bowls club
Photo Credit: Google Street View

Plans by Brisbane Racing Club to revitalise the abandoned Stafford Bowls Club site have been met with fierce opposition from locals complaining about the proposed $7.5-million development and the prospect of pokies operating nine hours a day, seven days a week in the neighbourhood.

Read: Brisbane Racing Club Leases, Revitalises Former Stafford Bowls Club Site

The State’s gambling regulator granted approval for 50 gaming machines to be operated by the Brisbane Racing Club. Although significantly less than the club’s initial request for approval for 76 machines, the decision has faced criticism from residents who believe that they have not had adequate opportunity to provide community feedback, having allegedly been given a tight, 10-day window earlier this year to voice their objections to the development.

Locals’ concerns

The Stafford Bowls Club ceased operations in 2016. Today, a group of locals have organised the Stafford Community Hub not Race Club, expressing their objections to the proposed makeover. 

Stafford bowls club
Photo credit: Stephen Bates – Greens MP for Brisbane,  Stafford Community Hub Not Race Club/Facebook

The group believes that the addition of gaming machines represents an excessive and unsustainable increase in gambling capacity, particularly in an already saturated local community area with high accessibility and exposure to gambling. 

A petition signed by over 200 individuals in early 2023 demanded the return of Stafford Bowls Club to the community. This call for action came in response to the Brisbane City Council’s approval of a lease transfer to the Brisbane Racing Club.

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They have also expressed concerns about the potential negative impact on nearby socio-economically disadvantaged areas, which are home to high-risk groups, including a significant concentration of social housing.

Stafford bowls club
Photo credit: Anna Campbell, Stafford Community Hub Not Race Club/Facebook

Furthermore, critics argue that the revenue generated from the gaming machines will primarily benefit membership groups and communities outside of the local community area, rather than directly benefiting Club Stafford members or residents.

Approval Conditions

Photo credit: Brisbane City Council

The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) imposed ten conditions on the gaming machines, including mandatory hourly staff walkthroughs and the maintenance of log books documenting any instances of problem gambling observed by the staff and the measures taken to address it. 

The machines will operate from 10:00 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, with the added requirement of facial recognition technology to identify banned individuals and technology to enable patrons to set predetermined limits on their gambling losses.

Photo credit: Michael Costello/Google Maps

Another condition stipulates that no alcohol will be served after 10:00 p.m., aiming to minimise the potential negative effects of alcohol consumption on gambling behaviour.

The club’s plans for the site include the addition of new dining facilities, a cafe, and a sports bar.

Read: Community Launches Campaign to Regain Stafford Bowls Club

In response to the objections, the Brisbane Racing Club has assured the public that it will collaborate with various community groups and relevant stakeholders to create a space that serves the wider community. 

Published 7-July-2023