ClubsNSW Executive Manager Brandon Punter (pictured top left) is just one name suggested to replace sacked CEO Josh Landis, who was dropped from the role yesterday over inflammatory comments linking NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s gaming reform views with his religious beliefs.

Landis was quoted as saying that the Perrottet’s position on gambling reform in NSW was a result of his “Catholic gut”. The clubs industry boss issued an apology but was sacked by the board hours later. 

“I wish to unreservedly apologise for my comments published in The Sydney Morning Herald today,” Landis said in a statement that came at 12.18pm. “The comments were made during a phone call with a journalist late yesterday afternoon, who asked why I believe the Premier is so insistent on introducing a mandatory cashless system and other gaming reforms.”

At 3.45pm, the Board of ClubsNSW, led by former rugby league executive George Peponis, issued its own statement, standing down Landis who had been the face of clubs in the current gambling reform debate and a ClubsNSW executive for 15 years.

“After careful consideration, the Board has made the decision to end Mr Landis’ employment with ClubsNSW with immediate effect,” the statement from the ClubsNSW Board said.

George Peponis is Chairman of the Board of ClubsNSW which sacked CEO Josh Landis yesterday.

The sacking gives ClubsNSW the opportunity to regroup with some club leaders going on the record as saying the comment and ensuing sacking did little to help the debate.

Campbelltown Catholic Club chief executive officer Michael Lavorato said linking the sacking should not distract from the issue of gaming reform while Mounties chief executive Dale Hunt, a supporter of the cashless gaming card, said the discussion needed to focus on broad policy reform. 

“But I would like to see those on the practical side [pubs and clubs] involved in the decision-making,” he said. “We run poker machines, and we run alcohol as well. Both come with a social responsibility.” 

Hunt even liked a LinkedIn post from Perrottet cabinet Minister Victor Dominello who said his “‘Catholic gut’ has nothing to do with my support of the cashless gaming card for poker machines”.

Punter is part of the executive management of ClubsNSW, leading a team of 10 in the areas of finance, IT, and administration. Like Landis, Punter is a 15-year veteran of the clubs lobby group.

“Integral to the remit of the role is taking responsibility for the vested interests in the joint venture stake in the game of Keno in NSW along with the shareholding in the industry’s specialised workers compensation insurance offering, Club Employers Mutual,” Punter’s profile says.

Happier times: Josh Landis at the 2022 ClubsNSW annual conference.

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