Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, poker machine profits in NSW increased to a staggering $2.1 billion dollars: a 7% jump from last year.
2020 saw the biggest year-on-year increase in the history of Liquor and Gaming NSW data, according to the ABC.
Dr Sally Gainsbury, the director of the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic, said there could be “several factors” behind the astounding increase.
“The venues being reopened did occur during welfare payments being made and stimulus payments,” Dr Gainsbury said. “We have seen in historic patterns … that this does lead to similar spikes in poker machine revenue… it’s not unusual for there to be bumps in gambling during recessions.”
They plan to switch on the pokies in NSW next week. Lobby cry is “community service”. Here is the proof govt gets 25% of pokies billions, community donations are a miserable 3% #auspol https://t.co/A1XeKVAkle
— 💧Michael West (@MichaelWestBiz) May 28, 2020
NSW MP Victor Dominello, who represents the Ryde electorate for the LNP, is pushing for gambling reform in NSW. In conversation with the ABC, he noted that his mission has been influenced many factors, including the suicide of Gary Van Duinen following a 13-hour pokies binge at Dee Why RSL.“We’ve got a pandemic and JobKeeper coming to an end in March; we’ve got anxiety and depression and stress on the rise, and then we’ve got an increase in gambling,” he explained.
“NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is pushing to introduce a #gambling card to help gamblers while also curtailing #moneylaundering. Under the proposal, #pokies would become cashless & gamblers required to register&pre-load money to the card.” https://t.co/LT7uX9ys7C
— Alliance for Gambling Reform (@ReformGambling) January 17, 2021
Under the proposed legislation, relatives of problem gamblers could apply to have their relatives banned from venues, with the venues themselves facing up to $27,000 in fines if found to be breaching these restrictions. These proposed changes are designed to reduce gambling harm in NSW, with the state dominating as the biggest poker machine offenders in the country, bringing in billions of dollars every year.
During the pandemic, gamblers in Western Sydney faced the biggest losses. The Fairfield local government area recorded a profit surge of over $197 million, while Canterbury-Bankstown hit $187 million in profits.