COMMENT: Bleeding gamblers of money is not a game

In the Bega Valley there were a recorded 23 premises (clubs and hotels) with 685 gaming machines for the year ending August 1, 2017.

Turnover through those gaming machines topped $266million for the year – that’s the total money fed into pokies, not a measure of losses.

That was an increase of $6.44million on the previous year, figures from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority released through a Greens freedom of information request show.

According to Census data from 2016, there were approximately 26,200 residents of the Bega Valley aged 20 or older. This means around $10,150 per adult on average was pushed through the slots last year at a rate of $5.1million a week.

$728,832 a day.

$30,368 per hour.

$506 a minute.

$8.40 a second.

Does anyone else feel physically ill at this point?

It’s harder to discover how much of that turnover is actually lost by punters, but given the reputation of the gambling industry, one could assume quite a lot.

The general rule is they must have a rate of return of 90 per cent – but that’s money gambled, not money inserted. Those little mini-”wins” that allow you to keep playing a bit longer count towards that machine’s “payout” even though you eventually lose.

And pokies are also notoriously good at keeping punters glued to their seats and dropping cash.

It must be mentioned that clubs and hotels through NSW support and fund community infrastructure through the state government’s ClubGrants program, which reinvests a percentage of profits from poker machines back into the local community.

ClubsNSW reports this community support is in the order of around $100million a year.

Nothing to be sneezed at, particularly when that money is granted to valued community projects such as local surf lifesaving clubs, sports groups and volunteer organisations.

However, the Gaming Machine Tax Act (2001) requires only 0.4 per cent of a club’s annual gaming machine profits over $1million to be paid into the ClubGrants program.

As a colleague put it this week, it’s like putting glitter on a dog turd.

  • Gambling Help: 1800 858 858;
This story Bleeding gamblers of money is not a game first appeared on Bega District News.