Monday, October 17, 2011 : New South Wales clubs alone process over A$11 billion in wagers every three months
The clubs industry in Australia is currently fighting to retain a thriving ‘pokies' industry in the face of federal government moves to make players nominate how much they are prepared to lose over a set period – a ‘pre-commitment' strategy designed to reduce the risk of problem gambling.
Figures out this week from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing at the behest of the Sun-Herald newspaper show that Aussies love to gamble, with more than A$ 11 billion being wagered every three months through land clubs in New South Wales alone, generating profits of around A$800 million.
Taking up the story, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that cash donations to charities and community organisations account for only 2.7 percent of NSW club income.
The chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, the Reverend Tim Costello, claimed: "Australians spend $12 billion a year on poker machine gambling. Six hundred thousand people play at least weekly and, of these, 95,000 are addicted to pokies. A further 95,000 are at risk of developing an addiction.”
Costello also claimed that there are currently around 200,000 poker machines in Australia, generating average revenue of A$60,000 each. ”Nearly all of these are high-intensity machines. In most states, a gambler can play maximum lines and maximum credits. That means, on high-intensity machines, it's possible to feed A$15,000 an hour into these machines. Losses average A$1200 an hour. People addicted to poker machines tend to play maximum credits and maximum lines, averaging losses of around A$21,000 a year. Some lose a lot more,” Costello told the newspaper.
Despite the high revenues involved, a spokeswoman for ClubsNSW, Carissa Simons, said only just over half of the 1256 registered clubs in NSW made a profit.
”Clubs also have to pay the salaries of 43,000 staff, tax and all the costs of running a business,” Ms Simons said. ”The fact that they are, on average, able to donate 2.7 per cent of their income in cash alone to local community and charities is remarkable and perhaps the reason why just 52 per cent of clubs are currently making a profit.”
The clubs spent $66 million on community contributions in 2010, according to figures compiled for The Sun-Herald by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing. Official figures also show the state government earned $66 million in revenue from the 1256 NSW clubs and their 70,905 gaming machines in the three months to May this year.
The pre-commitment measure is a condition imposed by federal independent senator Andrew Wilkie for his critical support of the minority Labor Party government in Australia, and he wants to see it implemented by 2014.