Losses projected ascend sharply
As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, gamblers in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) are expected to see losses on video poker machines climb substantially over the next decade.
An analysis of NSW Treasury documents reveals that revenue from poker machines is predicted to be AU$9 billion (approximately US$6.1 billion) per year by 2029, a 38 percent increase from today’s figure.
Overall, gamblers are projected to lose AU$85 billion (US$57.6 billion) on poker machines alone in the coming ten years. The revenue to the gaming venues will throw off AU$22.5 billion (US$15.2 billion) in taxes to the state.
Players in pubs seem to be particularly vulnerable, with pub players expected to see their losses increase by 50 percent over the next decade. In clubs, that number is expected to climb 30 percent.
NSW politician blames fellow politicians
One state politician in particular is not happy about the trend. An independent Member of Parliament, Justin Field, points the finger at the major political parties.
“The explosion in poker machine profits forecasted for the clubs and pubs, in spite of government reform, is another example of politicians turning a blind eye to the impacts of gambling on communities”, Field told the Morning Herald. He added, “The Labor Opposition remains deathly silent on this important social issue.”
Field believes the increase in video poker gambling losses in pubs is linked to the growth in political donations by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA). He says that large hotel companies buying up small pubs is not a coincidence. The newspaper reports that in 2018, the AHA contributed AU$416,122 (US$281,938) to the Labor and Coalition parties on both the state and federal levels combined. This compares to just AU$89,182 (US$60,424) in 2017.
Says it’s all about the money
A representative of the NSW Labor party says that federal donations cannot be used on the state level, but Field does not buy it.
“The idea that there is an impenetrable Chinese wall between different levels of the major political parties is absurd”, he explained, adding that “ICAC findings have shown how parties have attempted to skirt state donations prohibitions by directing donations to the federal level.” He also observed that there has been
a complete and historical failure to regulate gambling in the public interest.”
Field believes this is the case because the political parties are afraid to hurt the revenue flow.
Australia is unique in that, Western Australia aside, most of its video poker machines are in clubs and hotels, and not in casinos. In a 2017 study by The Australia Institute, it was calculated that the country houses three-quarters of the world’s club and hotel poker machines. New South Wales has more than 90,000 poker machines, about half of the country’s total.