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NSW clubs made $2 billion in poker machine profits during the pandemic

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.

poker machine

“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.”

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.

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.