Australians Lose AU$14.5 Billion on Poker Machines in One Year1 month ago
The Australian gambling industry has seen record high profits from poker machine losses surging to AU$14.5 billion in the last financial year. This figure is significantly up from the previous year, despite the cost of living crisis that is currently affecting many Australians.
The state of New South Wales accounted for more than half of the total losses, with residents losing AU$8.07 billion on the pokies.
Queenslanders suffered the next heaviest losses, with AU$3.2 billion, followed by Victoria with AU$3 billion.
Incredibly, this massive amount does not include machines located inside casinos, only those in pubs and clubs.
Another jaw-dropping statistic that was revealed is that Australia has only 0.5% of the world’s population but owns 20% of its poker machines and 80% of the pokies located outside of a licensed casino.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has called for action to address the high levels of harm caused by gambling, including financial loss, family breakdown, family violence, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
The organisation has also highlighted the sophisticated techniques used by poker machines designers to maximise the average total spend and time playing the machine.
Chief executive of the alliance Carol Bennett told the media the latest data was "really worrying" and clearly showed that increased regulation is needed.
"These staggering new loss figures show an industry that is out of control. And these figures don't even count poker machine losses in our casinos
"The losses translate into very high levels of harm right across our community, whether it be financial loss, family breakdown, family violence, anxiety, depression, even suicide.
"It has a big impact in our community and it's an impact that we need to address."
She also added concerns that the ridiculous number of machines in New South Wales — some 87,000 — was the main driving force behind this problem.
Earlier this year, the now ousted premier of New South Wales promised to trial cashless gaming cards in preparation for a ban on cash feeding poker machines. Bennett has been critical of the new government for its tardiness in implementing the trial.
The reasons are unclear but it has been brought to question that politicians might have been taking notice of the hotel industry’s strong lobbying against the switch. The sector has struggled post-Covid and is reluctant to see such an easy source of income fall by the wayside, regardless of the social implications.
John Whelan, CEO of the Australian Hotels Association NSW said:
“We have an industry on its knees post-Covid being told to introduce an unproven, untested, un-costed and unnecessary cashless system which treats every patron like a criminal.”
There were also questions about the scheme’s potential effectiveness at the planned daily limit of AU$1,500 per day. This would obviously not help the vast majority of the population even before considering the loaning of cards from one individual to another.
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