Hunter venues profiting over a million a day

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Hunter venues profiting over a million a day

Liquor and Gaming NSW data has revealed that clubs and hotels in the Hunter region are making $1.1 million in profits every day from people playing gambling machines.

The Newcastle Herald reports that while the number of gambling machines and the number of hotels and clubs with gambling machines has reduced since 2017 overall, profits generated from the first half of 2019 in Hunter have exceeded those for the same period in 2017 by $15.5 million.

In terms of venues responsible for the increase, the 8% increase is revenue generated is largely from hotels with pubs in Newcastle, Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock and Maitland making more money with similar numbers of machines overall.

Clubs in Lake Macquarie also made close to $2 million more for the same period with 84 fewer machines and two less venues.

In total, venues in the region have generated $202.2 million from gambling machines in the past six months. Clubs have made more than two-thirds of that, $135.4 million while hotels made $66.8 million.

Wests New Lambton was the club which made the most from gambling machines in the Hunter, where it ranked 12th overall for its profits out of 1080 clubs in the state. It operates 542 machines at its venue.

Scone RSL tops the list

Scone RSL generated the most profits per gambling machine in the region, in which it has 37 in total.

Winners Circle Wallsend made the most profit from its gambling machines and the most profit per machine, with the venue home to 20 poker machines.

Newcastle was the local government area where the most profit was made from gambling machines in clubs and hotels per capita in the last six months, followed by Port Stephens, Muswellbrook, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland, Upper Hunter and then Singleton and Dungog, whose figures have been combined.

Wesley Mission chief executive officer Reverend Keith V Garner said that the charity was seeing an increasing demand for its gambling counsellors in the Hunter and Great Lakes regions.

“We are particularly seeing an escalation in the number of people whose lives are being impacted by online gambling,” Rev Garner said.

He said that from Wesley Mission’s experience, the group who appear at most risk of developing gambling problems were those who had experienced trauma “where gambling becomes an outlet for overwhelming emotions”.

“Government statistics show that Australians lose about $24 billion a year on gambling, which is more per-capita than any other country,” he said.

“The impact of poker machines remains prevalent in the community, and access to the means of gambling such as these increases the opportunity to gamble.”

A spokesperson for ClubsNSW said that poker machine profit at clubs in the region had only increased by 0.7% in the past six months compared to the same period last year.

“Not-for-profit clubs make significant contributions to a range of worthy causes, including charitable, community and sporting organisations through the ClubGRANTS scheme. Clubs in the Newcastle-Hunter region collectively donated $4.5 million through ClubGRANTS in the past 12 months, supporting organisations such as the Salvation Army, the John Hunter Children’s Hospital and the Mark Hughes Foundation,” he said.

“For the 1% of the adult population who do have a problem with gambling, ClubsNSW has developed the ClubSAFE program, which offers a 24-hour counselling service, a chaplaincy program and the multi-venue self-exclusion scheme.”

He said that ClubsNSW supports members looking to diversify their income streams.

“Some local examples include the Alec Rice Medical Centre, established by Toronto Diggers due to a shortage of GPs in the local area, and the West Group’s ownership of the beloved Newcastle Knights,” he said.

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