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Poker machine boom predicted for next decade

Mon, Aug 5, 10:57am by Staff Writer

Poker machine revenue in New South Wales is expected to rise to $9 billion a year by 2029, an increase of $2.5 billion, new Treasury documents show.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that over the next decade, the people of New South Wales are set to gamble away $85 billion on poker machines, and over the same period the New South Wales Treasury will collect $22.5 billion in gaming machine tax.

The figures come despite legislation passed last year to cap the number of poker machines across the state and in high-risk areas.

Losses to machines in pubs are rising more than those in clubs, with an increase of 50 per cent in losses from 2018-19 and 2028-29 predicted in pubs, compared with a 30 per cent increase in losses from clubs, the documents show.

Independent MP Justin Field, whose office analysed the documents, said he was concerned that neither major political party appeared to want to tackle the issue due to the revenue the industry generates.

“The explosion in poker machine profits forecasted for the clubs and pubs, in spite of government reform, is another example of politicians turning a blind eye to the impacts of gambling on communities.

The Labor Opposition remains deathly silent on this important issue,” he said.

“Pubs will take a greater share of pokies profits over the next 10 years with a 50 per cent profit increase expected from hotels by 2028, outstripping clubs.

Donations called into question

This growth coincides with a boost in political donations from the Australian Hotels Association and huge shifts in hotel ownership with big players gobbling up family-run pubs around the state.

“The recent Crown investigation and this explosion in poker machine profits highlights the capture of major parties by the gambling industry and their complete and historical failure to regulate gambling in the public interest.”

Last year, the AHA donated $416,122 to New South Wales and federal Labor and Coalition parties compared with $89,182 the previous year.

AHA New South Wales’ largest donation was to the Liberal Party and the AHA in New South Wales was the top donor to the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party, spending $85,990, with Clubs New South Wales second with a gift of $50.260.

Asked what the AHA expected in return for its donations, or if it made similar donations to any other charities or organisations, the AHA did not respond.

A spokesman for New South Wales Labor said donations made to the federal branch could not be used for state purposes and were used only in federal campaigns.

Mr Field said he did not accept the idea that donations to federal parties did not benefit their state branches.

“The idea that there is an impenetrable Chinese wall between different levels of the major political parties is absurd – that is exactly how soft influence works.

“ICAC findings have shown how parties have attempted to skirt state donations prohibitions by directing donations to the federal level,” he said.

The NSW spokeswoman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Kate Da Costa, said the major parties in the state had a dangerously close relationship with the gambling industry.

“NSW is not normal. Losses through poker machines in clubs and hotels are now running at $17.7 million a day, every day of the year,” she said. “Star Casino adds at least another $920,000 a day to that figure. These are losses, not turnover figures – a huge sum of money which is a proxy for untold misery and harm.”

Based on the analysis by The Australia Institute in their 2017 study of gaming machine, Australia has 76 per cent of the world’s club and hotel poker machines.

Nearly $38m lost on Dubbo poker machines

Poker machine players in Dubbo and Wellington in New South Wales lost almost $38 million to clubs and pubs last year, the Daily Liberal is reporting.

Statistics from Liquor and Gaming NSW show that the $37,943,741 in net gaming machine profits were collected by 27 venues in the Dubbo Regional Council area in 2018, up on the $36,799,817 collected in 2017.

The increase in player losses and venue profits came despite less gaming machines being in the community at the end of 2018, when there were 696 machines compared to 730 at the end of 2017.

Venues paid $8,404,231 in tax on their gaming machine profits in 2018, an increase on the $7,923,004 paid in tax in 2017.

The total net profit figure for 2018 meant each gaming machine in the local council area could have collected an average profit of $54,516.

The average profit per machine is about $17,000 more than a year’s salary on the minimum wage and about $30,000 more than a year of the age pension for a single person.

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