Bowl Over Legal Hurdles: Considerations for Expanding or Merging Your Bowls Club

As featured in the latest edition of Bowler Magazine

If your bowls club is considering expanding its footprint by setting up new locations or by merging with another club then you must consider the legal ramifications of this. Let’s dive into what’s involved for bowls clubs looking to acquire or merge with additional premises.

Benefits for Bowlers

When a club considers branching out, the first question is always: “How does this benefit our bowlers?” Naturally, profitability is a key factor. The new premises should ideally generate more income or provide cost efficiencies, which can result in more profit to be reinvested into enhancing facilities and programs. But there’s more to consider:

  • Convenience: Could the new location be more convenient for some of our current bowlers or acquiring new bowlers?
  • Cost savings: Could a merger or consolidation with another bowls club provide some cost savings that benefit both clubs?
  • Additional Facilities: Are there extra perks at the new site, like function rooms or pools, that could enhance the experience for our bowlers?
  • Membership Growth: Might the new premises attract more bowlers, helping us grow our membership?
  • Buying Power: Could having another location boost our bargaining power with suppliers?

Consulting the Members

Once a suitable spot is identified, it’s crucial to involve your bowlers and other members in the decision-making process. Some club rules or constitutions might not require member approval for major decisions like acquiring new premises or spending significant funds. However, even if not mandated, seeking input from your members is just good practice. It ensures everyone’s on board with the decision and gives the board/management committee the confidence and authority to proceed.

Contracts and Constitution

When the decision is made, you will require appropriate legal documents to be put in place for the new arrangements.  This could be a lease or purchase contract for a new premises or a contract for the sale of the existing premises as part of a merger or some other arrangement. 

In the case of a merger, there is often the need for amendments to one or both clubs’ constitutions – or the creation of a new joint club entity. Sometimes there are various additional agreements to document the arrangements and long term commitments resulting from a merger.

OLGR Approval

On the assumption that your bowls club intend to sell liquor and/or operating gaming machines from the new premises, then you’ll need to obtain approval from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) to obtain a transfer of the existing liquor licence for the new premises (assuming the premises is licensed), and/or to operate gaming machines.

In our experience with these matters, it can take between four to six months for an application for additional premises to be approved. This processing period may be delayed where the application has not addressed the various requirements under the Gaming Machine Act 1991 and the information required by the Commissioner to assess the application. It is important to engage a professional with experience in such applications to ensure there are no unnecessary delays in obtaining approval for additional gaming premises.

If your bowls club is eyeing expansion or merger and needs a hand navigating these waters, please contact me on 07 3224 0353. We’ve got the expertise and experience to help you chart a course for success.

“The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.”
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