Ringwood RSL sub-branch looking to esports as replacement for pokies

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The Ringwood RSL sub-branch is considering ditching pokies (electronic poker machines) and replacing them with esports and other video games as a way to secure its future.

It’s shift into esports is part of the sub-branch’s $120 million redevelopment plan, which would include a six-storey complex with more than 200 apartments, a pool and gym, an office and business hub and retail and medical facilities.

Along with diversifying their income streams, the sub-branch is considering moving away from pokies over a 10 year period in favour of more modern gaming options.

Sub-branch president David Jamison said pokies were becoming “less acceptable in some of our newer veterans’ eyes” and it had to consider new income streams.

“It’s the older demographic that play the pokies essentially, the younger guys don’t seem to do that, their gaming is on their handheld devices,” he said.

“These gaming competitions based on video games … eGaming, that’s the sort of thing we are looking at.”

“The kids are getting into it, and they enjoy it, so if that’s going to be a service we can provide, we’d be happy to do it.”

Ringwood RSL esports venue, artists impression

An artist’s impression of the Ringwood RSL’s planned redevelopment.

RSL’s in Australia have painted themselves into a corner as their revenue has become more reliant on pokies. This phasing out of the gambling machines appears to be in response to the backlash from the younger generation of members.

It’s unclear currently what form the esports or… ‘egaming’ as Mr Jamison put it will take place. It wasn’t long ago that a
Call of Duty: World War II tournament was cancelled at the Castle Hill RSL Club due to being in poor taste so close to ANZAC day.

Gosford RSL in NSW already offers Rocket League tournaments and has a dedicated esports section on their website.

With the rise of esports in Australia, other venues are getting on board to take advantage.

GGEZ is an esports bar in Melbourne where patrons can watch games live. This weekend the IEM Sydney saw huge crowds flock to watch teams play Counter Strike for $250,000 USD in the Qudos Bank Arena.

IEM Sydney 2019

Mr Jamison said it was the RSL’s desire to evolve into a community-focused club while retaining its core responsibility of caring for veterans and their families, which will be incorporated in the new building.

“This will set us up for the future, there will be a multi-generational aspect to it,” he said.

“We need the community support, so we need to provide facilities for the community as well.”

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