ANZAC DAY
ANZAC DAY

‘Devasted’ cash-strapped RSL to close its doors

ONE of the Gold Coast's biggest and oldest RSL clubs will close its doors and sell its valuable land in a "devastating" blow to the community.

Southport RSL has handed back its TAB licence and will shut after years of financial struggles. Area councillor Dawn Crichlow says it has survived on income from bingo games.

Southport RSL.
Southport RSL.

The TAB stopped operating this month.

The building, on the corner of Scarborough and Lawson streets, will be put up for sale.

The financial problems are affecting the RSL's commercial club and is not linked to the sub-branch which deals with veteran affairs and organises Anzac Day services.

Cr Crichlow said the club was in urgent need of help.

"There have been financial problems and they owe quite a bit of money," she said.

"Somebody must help them. It is tough out there. I don't think people realise how bloody tough it is.

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The Southport RSL runs annual commemorations. Picture: Jerad Williams
The Southport RSL runs annual commemorations. Picture: Jerad Williams

"Most of the time it has been working on a shoestring budget. They rely on bingo to survive.

"This is one of biggest and most important community institutions and it must survive.

Southport RSL was founded in the aftermath of World War I and was established on its current site in 1938.

Its existing building was erected in 1996.

Southport RSL and its general manager has been contacted for comment by the Bulletin.

Surfers Paradise RSL president Ross Eastgate confirmed he was aware of the closure.

"It will be devastating. The community role they play in terms of commemoration is important.

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Two-Up is popular at the Southport RSL on Anzac Day. Picture: Jerad Williams
Two-Up is popular at the Southport RSL on Anzac Day. Picture: Jerad Williams

"They have to be viable businesses and the state RSL seems disinterested in helping these community assets.

"The state RSL shouldn't carry them but they should support them because every RSL which closes damages the overall reputation."

It comes three years after the Bulletin revealed RSL clubs and sub-branches were in crisis, with ageing memberships and difficulties in accessing money putting the squeeze on community organisations.

Clubs Queensland spokeswoman Laura Bos confirmed the RSL had longstanding financial issues.

The old RSL building in 1988.
The old RSL building in 1988.

"We are aware Southport has been having trading difficulties for some time and this is a signal of what his happening across the board in terms of consumerism," she said.

"Things like Uber Eats and Netflix have changed the way people interact with clubs and entertainment.

"This club particularly is one which has not invested in itself in terms of keeping its offers current and relevant to the market in changing times.

"It has always been challenged as a result."