Saturday August 17,2013 : SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CLUBS CONCERNED AT ONLINE GAMBLING COMPETITION
Claims that online betting is taking Aussies away from land pokie machines
The Herald Sun newspaper reported over the weekend that online gambling is proving to be formidable competition for land pokie machines, reducing club revenues and the amount of tax paid to the state government in South Australia.
The article quotes the latest Consumer and Business Services Department figures, which reportedly show South Australian punters lost A$731 million on poker machines last financial year, down A$60 million from 2006-07 highs.
It is the second-lowest result in the past decade, and means provincial government coffers will lose around A$34 million of tax revenue it was expecting in last year's Budget forecast.
Australian Hotels Association SA general manager Ian Horne told The Sunday Mail newspaper that revenue from gambling, as well as food and drink sales in pubs, had flat lined in the past five years.
"There has been an extraordinary explosion of online gambling," Horne said. "Go back a decade and the only place that had a 42-inch flat screen TV was a pub, now they're very common."
Horne said the trend from poker machines to online gambling posed major problems for governments, which were less able to regulate cyber-betting or claim tax revenue from it.
Clubs SA deputy president Bill Cochrane told the Herald Sun that many sporting organisations were struggling to fund their activities as punting moves away from poker machines to the internet.
"If there is revenue being raised through gambling, it should be at least coming back to the state and used for the community benefit," he said. "While there's more money moving off to these online gambling sites, we're getting less and less money for sport and recreation.
"People can just gamble as much as they like on their phones and computers these days and don't get out and have be under all of the controls that are in pubs and clubs."
The newspaper reports that South Australia's government has had to reduce this year’s estimated tax revenues from poker machines, and that tax revenues from the pokies had declined by A$200 million over the past four years.
The 2012-13 financial year continued the declining trend, undershooting even the state government's amended and more cautious targets by A$2 million.
Predictably, anti-online gambling politician Sen. Nick Xenophone had an opinion, saying federal action was needed to minimise harm.
He suggested that banks could be forced to blacklist problem sites, credit could be eliminated from sports betting accounts and gambling advertising during sports programs better regulated.
"The next wave of problem gamblers will come from online gambling," Xenophon predicted. "It's like a Hydra, you cut one head off and they keep popping back.
The 2010 review of online gambling conducted by the Productivity Committee found many punters were drawn to online gaming because it offered better prices and more variety, but warned it may increase problem gambling through its "high level of accessibility".
South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill has flagged plans to crack down on online gaming, recently saying he would seek the views of experts.