Casino RSM Club

1360 906 In Good Company | Northern Rivers

Casino RSM Club

162 Canterbury St, Casino

Visit Richmond Valley Northern Rivers-01
Casino RSM Club

The 23 of March 2020 was the hardest day of Neale Genge’s career.

On that day, we had the shutdown of all non-essential activities and businesses as part of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. That included the Casino RSM Club, where Neale is secretary-manager.

“Covid was heart-wrenching for us; it was extremely challenging,” he says.

“It did untold damage to our industry and to our mental health. Over the months and years, it was a constant effort to keep up with all the changes.

“I took it personally. It wasn’t fair. I said to my wife, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong, but I’ve had to sack 65 staff. I put 65 people out of work’. I had survivor guilt.”

The closure of the beloved club also took its toll on the broader Richmond Valley community.

When he started at the RSM in 2013, Neale made it his mission to forge deep connections between the club and the residents of Casino and surrounding areas. Membership doubled within 10 years, and now, more than 85 per cent of Casino’s adult population are members.

“I wanted to get back to our core business,” he says. “We were established to help returned servicemen, but that has evolved and now we are committed to being the leading community organisation in the Richmond Valley.”

The club is certainly making a positive impact.

“Everything is done with a view to generating funds to support more organisations in our community and to have a positive impact.”

Spurred into action by massive electricity bills and a desire to be more environmentally friendly, the club progressively installed several solar projects, now totalling 438kW and generating about 671,454kWh of clean power every year. The club is registered as a power station with the Clean Energy Regulator.

“We are off the grid during daylight,” Neale explains proudly. “We want to lead by example, so we took big, bold steps to reduce our carbon footprint.

“All lights are now energy-saving LEDs and there has been a complete upgrade of all the refrigeration equipment. Our bistro’s food scraps are used to make compost for the Casino Forest Garden. We gave reusable water bottles to our members.”

It’s this commitment to a bright future that has seen the RSM Club work tirelessly for and with their community – they support more than 30 organisations and sporting groups every year.

The club has helped with Clean Up Australia Day and last year hosted Christmas Carols with 500 attendees. This year they’re working with the local Lions club to deliver an even bigger and better event.

It’s something Neale is looking forward to, after months of heartache and stress following the floods.

“There were so many people who had lost everything,” he says. “Our club was servicing people from Lismore, Coraki and other surrounding places, because those places had nothing. People had no kitchens and they were coming here for hot meals.

“Our trade doubled but we had half the staff. March, April, May and June were just so hectic.”

With trade returning to normal, Neale has been able to focus on the club’s direction, which is all about reinvesting in the future of the Richmond Valley.

The RSM bought the old Royal Hotel in Casino and is working with council and architects to turn it into a new licensed venue with accommodation. Neale hopes it will be open within two years.

“We also want to extend our bowling greens by putting another half green undercover,” he says. “That will mean a new carpark. 

“As a major landowner in Casino (the club owns the Coles shopping complex, the building next door and vacant land nearby), we’ll also be looking at retail developments in the future.

“Everything is done with a view to generating funds to support more organisations in our community and to have a positive impact. And we couldn’t do any of that without our incredible staff and our customers – I am so grateful for them.”

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