31 March 2020
New poker machine data has revealed that $6.623 billion was lost on poker machines in NSW pubs and clubs in 2019, equal to $18.1 million every day of the year.
Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said the data highlighted just how devastating an impact poker machines have in NSW.
“The amount of gambling harm associated with losses as big as more than $6.6 billion in just one year is almost unfathomable,” Rev Costello said. “When you consider the majority of people in the state don’t gamble on poker machines, that means there are some people losing tens of thousands of dollars a year to a predatory industry.
“These losses also don’t count what has gone down the metaphoric drain at Star Casino as that data is not included in this release.
“We cannot forget that poker machines lead to the loss of much more than money. In extreme cases, poker machines can cause the loss of lives through connections to some deaths by suicide. Then there is the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and much more due to gambling harm.”
Rev Costello said the current Covid-19 crisis highlighted how ingrained gambling interests were in Australian politics.
“It took much longer than it should have to get poker machine venues and casinos shut down, with special exemptions being issued for casinos to continue operating,” Rev Costello said.
“There is even a Crown Casino board member, Jane Halton, on the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission.
“This is all worth remembering right now as the losses on poker machines in NSW clubs alone in 2019 could have financed the entire NSW government's Covid-19 support package! The NSW Government’s Covid-19 package is costing $3.3 billion, whereas $3.968 billion was lost at clubs.
“That tells us so much about how much of an absolute scourge poker machines are in NSW, and around Australia. The pockets of a very wealthy few are being lined off the back of misery, with the average poker machine in a NSW pub raking in $117,000 a year for the owners.
“We are experiencing the most challenging and devastating crisis of our lifetimes, but I do take some solace in the thought that this could provide an opportunity for change.
“I truly hope this crisis provides the opportunity for us to press a reset button on many things in Australia, including in gambling reform, so that we can rebuild as a stronger, healthier society.”
The three NSW councils recording the highest gambling losses in 2019 are:
- Canterbury-Bankstown, total losses $1.582million per day
- Fairfield, $1.416 million per day
- Cumberland $1.037million per day.
The total losses in 2019 for these three councils is an enormous $944.44 million - nearly $1billion from three Sydney councils in some of the most disadvantaged areas in NSW.