Castle Hill RSL in Sydney’s north-west has had to cancel a Call of Duty: World War II tournament after a veteran member complained to NSW Minister for Veterans' Affairs, David Elliot, that the tournament was "distasteful" and "inappropriate".
The tournament – which was to be held on May 8, two weeks after Anzac Day – was organised by the club in an attempt to attract young members, with cash prizes of $300 on offer.
Mr Elliot said that RSL clubs have plenty of entertainment options to choose from and that hosting a war-themed eSports tournament so soon after Anzac Day was a "strange" choice.
"I do think promoting war as entertainment a week after Anzac Day, in front of veterans and war widows is probably just stepping over the line," he told the Sydney Morning Herald (opens in new tab).
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For legal reasons, Mr Elliot said, he was obliged to pass on this information to the gaming minister.
The Castle Hill RSL had previously organised eSports events "without incident", but has cancelled this one, with the club's chief executive officer accepting that "the WWII focus of this promotion is not an appropriate one for an RSL club".
Michael Morgan – owner of Video Games League, the organiser of the tournament – has apologised for not taking the timing of the event into consideration.
"I hope we haven't offended anyone. We will talk to the RSL about getting rid of it if it is disrespectful," he told the SMH.
The club's chief executive officer David O'Neill has confirmed that all promotional material has been removed and would not run similar promotions in future.