Last drinks have been served at Melbourne's Tote Hotel, a familiar gathering place for the city's gig-goers over the past 27 years.

The venue, which has played host to gigs by the likes of White Stripes, Jet, Mudhoney and Silverchair, closed its doors today (Jan. 18) just weeks after the state government introduced new licensing regulations.

The venue went out with a bang today. More than 20 bands took to the Tote's stage for one final hit-out, the likes of the Drones, Dave Graney, the Meanies and Cosmic Psychos among them. Reports suggest anywhere in the region of 2,000 fans turned out today to pay their final respects. A similar number rolled up yesterday evening to protest the situation.

Proprietor Bruce Milne blamed the closure on the recent introduction of draconian alcohol regulations which have ramped up licensing fees, reportedly by as much as 500%.

"I can't afford to keep fighting [the Director of] Liquor Licensing," explains Milne. "The 'high risk' conditions they have placed on the Tote's license make it impossible to trade profitably."

As part of a nationwide crackdown on alcohol-related transgressions, Victoria's alcohol licensing authority launched new conditions on Dec. 31, 2009 which meant those venues which served alcohol after 1am would need to fork-out more for a new "late night" license and beefed-up health-and safety compliance.

Milne assured that the Tote has had "very, very few incidents" despite its location on a "rough little corner" of the inner-city suburb of Collingwood. "I can't afford the new 'high risk' fees they have imposed. I can't afford to keep fighting them at [the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal]. I can't renegotiate a lease in this environment."

Milne added, "It's too late to save the Tote but not too late to try and save other inner city venues that are feeling the same pressures."

The Tote opened for business in 1980 on the site of the Ivanhoe Hotel, whose history dates back to 1876.