ADELAIDE, Australia (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — As is the case just about everywhere else, the music industry in Australia is feeling the pinch from declining music sales and looking more and more towards live music to make the shortfall, however in South Australia bands have some major competition for entertainment dollars in the form of video poker machines, known locally as pokies.
Since 1992, when the Gaming Machines Bill paved the way for their implentation, Pokies have become a staple of virtually every pub in Oz. Many have traded valuable floor space to banks of video poker machines, which club owners feel are crucial to their bottom line but as the live music becomes more focal to the industry at large, a growing coalition of musicians and club owners are starting to question the validity of that belief.
According to the Adelaide Advertiser, the coalition, composed of musicians, fans, radio stations and venue owners have launched a campaign that aims to introduce legislation that would carve out a 'pokie' free environment for live music.
The coalition is the brainchild of Monty Ruggiero, owner of the Cavern Bar in the south Australian city of Adelaide. In a manifesto of sorts on his MySpace page, Ruggiero writes:
"The premise of this message is not to debate the existence of, or removal of, gaming in S.A., but rather it is to separate live entertainment from gaming and to provide greater equity between all venues and their participants…By separating live entertainment from gaming we aim to offer an attractive, measurable recovery to an ailing industry and fully restore the live trade for its performers, audience and venues."
Not everyone subscribes to the coalitions view however. One vocal opponent has been the Australian Hotels Association, which has rejected Ruggiero's claims, asserting, according to the Adelaide Advertiser, that the dearth of live music is "a myth and a fallacy" and that bars and clubs in South Australia hosted more than 21,000 live performances in 2006. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers