Russell Crowe axes gaming machines from his club

Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:43pm EST
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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe has won a lengthy battle to ban gambling machines from the Sydney rugby league 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 convinced skeptical board members of the South Sydney Rabbitohs to dump the club's 160 slot machines, which rake in A$1 million ($862,000) 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 sought to ban gambling 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-time 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 in New York, replaced scantily-dressed cheerleaders with a drumming band after his wife Danielle Spencer and other fans complained.


<p>File photo shows actor Russell Crowe poses at the Los Angeles premiere of his new film "American Gangster" in Hollywood, California October 29, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>