NSW Club Programs Being Funded by Problem Gamblers
According to figures from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, Illawarra punters are losing $2.5 billion a year on poker machines, which works out to $50 million a week in total and $158 a week per resident.
Wollongong Local Government Area had the largest turnover with $1.85 billion spent on the more than 3,000 poker machines in the area and with 210,000 residents, that works out to around $880 lost per resident. This figure includes all residents, including those who do not gamble and according to Associate Professor Melanie Randle, marketing researcher at the University of Wollongong, the figure would be significantly higher among problem gamblers.
In addition, problem gamblers often come from more vulnerable, disadvantaged groups of the population or those with lower socioeconomic status.
“What this means is that money is being lost by particularly vulnerable groups and while clubs say ‘well we redistribute the money to the community’ and that may be true, it is not necessarily going back to the people that lost it,” said Dr Randle.
“So essentially, many of the community services provided by clubs are helped being funded by the most marginalised and vulnerable people, who have an addiction.”
As a state, NSW saw an increase in poker machine turnover, despite a drop in the number of gaming machines operating in pubs and clubs. The number of machines fell to 93,364, a drop of 244 machines, while turnover increased 6 percent to 73.3 billion.
Dr Randle attributed this increase largely to the prevalence of poker machines in clubs and pubs that attract families. Poker machines are meant to be out of sight, however, according to recent research, children are aware of the presence of the machines and they have become accepted as part of a club’s environment.
March 30, 2017