11 June 2020
Analysis of poker machine losses in the first week of operation after lockdown has revealed poker machines in pubs and clubs are already taking more money than they were pre-COVID, with 40% of machines still turned off.
“If pubs and clubs are allowed to turn the remaining 40% of poker machines back on, losses will go up, and more lives will be devastated than before the COVID-19 crisis” said Tony Mohr, Executive Director of the Alliance for Gambling reform
“To prevent gambling harm from increasing the NSW government should reduce the number of poker machines by 40% to 55,000 machines”
In the first week of operation after lockdown NSW Clubs fleeced $56.2 million and pokie pubs a further $35.4 million. That’s $91.6 million not spent on food and beverages at a time when we most need it.
“$92million dollars a week lost to poker machines is $92 million that would be much better spent on small businesses struggling to stay afloat”
Poker machine gambling only employs three people for every million dollars spent compared to 20 people for the hospitality industry.
“Cutting machine numbers now will prevent harm as we recover from COVID-19. We must act on this now, particularly when we know the established links between gambling harm and other issues including mental ill-health and family violence, have also been exacerbated by COVID”
NSW is the first state to re-open poker machine rooms. Other states have recognised that poker machine rooms are high-touch environments that have the potential to become clusters of community transmission of COVID-19
“The NSW Government allowed the gambling industry to dictate public health policy by restarting machines early, now it must act in the interests of the community to prevent and reduce further harm”
Media contact: Tony Mohr on 0402 336 416 or firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Paper by the South Australian Centre for Economics here