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Sydney Pubs Reject Pokies In Favour Of Live Music

Image Title: Sydney Pubs Reject Pokies In Favour Of Live Music, Image Credit: Bald Faced Stag Facebook Page
Jasmine Crittenden
| April 26, 2017

The Bald Faced Stag, a pub in Leichhardt, in Sydney’s inner west, no longer has a gaming room. New owners Kirsty Clark and Scott Mackenzie, who took over in March, ripped out 18 poker machines to create more space for live music.

The Leichhardt publicans made the announcement via Facebook earlier this month. “The band room is turning into a fully fledged stage … The Stag Stage with band gear lockup, raised VIP section, dedicated entrance with merchandise counter and band accommodation. The old girl is about to shift gears!”

Ms Clark told the Daily Telegraph, “With everything that’s happened with the lockout laws there’s a real shortage of available performance space and we want to encourage emerging bands by giving them a place they can perform.”

Just down the road in Chippendale, the Landsdowne Hotel scored new publicans in mid-April, equally committed to live music and the absence of poker machines. Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham, who also own Mary’s Burgers in Newtown and the Unicorn Hotel in Paddington, intend to re-open the pub in June, with a dedicated band room on the third floor. Matt Rule, who used to run the Annandale Hotel with his brother, Dan, will be taking care of bookings. “We f—ing hate [poker machines],” Smyth told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Bald Faced Stag and the Landsdowne follow in the footsteps of the Tathra Hotel, on the South Coast of New South Wales. When Cliff Wallis and Sayaka Mahara arrived in 2015, they ripped out the pub’s 12 poker machines, sold the licences and announced a live music program. The pub is undergoing renovations and is due to open later this year. The reader response to this coverage was phenomenal.

Meanwhile, siblings Tom and Anna Lawrence, children of the late Neil Lawrence, creator and producer of Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation! (2015)” launched Proudly Pokies Free in September 2016. The campaign supports pokie-free music venues and promotes awareness of the dangers designed into gaming machines.

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