Russell Crowe axes gaming machines from his club

Canberra – Oscar-winning Australian actor Russell Crowe has succeeded in a long-running fight to have gambling machines banned from the Sydney football club he co-owns in a bid to make it more family-friendly.

Crowe and fellow owner, millionaire businessman Peter Holmes a Court, on Wednesday night succeeded in convincing skeptical board members of the South Sydney Rabbitohs to dump the club’s 160 slot machines, which rake in AUD 1 million (NZD 1.1m) a year. „We put a proposal for a family-friendly club, an inclusive club, one that would make the current members of the club, the people who’ve been going there for years, happy, but also the new residents,“ Holmes a Court told local radio.

The two argued to ban gaming machines, which support revenues for a wide range of sporting, community and veterans clubs popular with many Australians, because of concern about the social impact of gambling.

Crowe, a long-term Rabbitohs fan, bought the cash-strapped club in 2006 with Holmes a Court, the scion of one of Australia’s wealthiest families.

Together they have injected Hollywood glamour and success back into one of Australia’s oldest rugby league teams, dressing players in Armani suits off the field and filming the transformation in a documentary series.

In February Crowe, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to throwing a telephone handset at a hotel concierge, axed scantily-dressed cheerleaders from the club, replacing them with a drumming band after his wife Danielle Spencer and other fans complained.