Pokies players in some areas of Sydney are sinking $15 billion into machines a year, latest figures claim.
The total turnover includes winning money put back in as bets, not just the original bets themselves.
Sports clubs in the south-west of the city are raking in the most, according to Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority statistics for 2014-15.
Pokie machines are legal in New South Wales, and the state boasts a higher per capita pokie rate than anywhere else in Australia. In fact, NSW has more pokies per head than anywhere outside Nevada.
Fairfield Tops Pokie Turnover
The figures for one city are certainly staggering. Fairfield comes out top with $7.61 billion gambled on pokies over the past year. That marked a rise of $630 million from the previous year. Canterbury and Bankstown, both in the south-west of Sydney, raked in over $7 billion.
The figures are more extraordinary when you consider how many pokie machines there are in the area. Canterbury has 1,988 machines dotted around sports clubs and hotels, while Bankstown has just over 2,500.
Bankstown Sports Club alone pulled in $79 million last year on its pokies alone, while Canterbury League Club raked in $71 million.
Clubs NSW, a powerful group who lobbies politicians on gaming law and who operates clubs and hotels in the state, defended the turnover.
“Poker machines are a popular form of entertainment for millions of people in NSW alone, and the vast majority of people spend responsibly and within their budget,” a spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph.
Good End To 2015 For ClubsNSW
The jump in turnover will be welcome news for Clubs NSW, which represents over 1,000 clubs and pubs operating 70,000 pokies. In 2015, claims surfaced that the operator paid “gifts” worth thousands of bucks to former Labor minister, Peter Garrett.
Broadcast in October, gambling documentary, ‘Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation’, suggested that former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett was given an envelope stuffed with cash when he became a Labor MP in 2004.
Garrett quickly changed his story before the documentary was aired, saying that the money was given back. However, it was too late for the story not to break.
“…It was hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. I wasn’t going to accept money from them [Clubs NSW] or from anyone in that way,” said the singer and politician.
“But it was a very early taste of the way in which this sector could actually operate.”
It’s not the first time ClubsNSW have been caught up in a political donations scandal. Earlier this year it emerged that the powerful chain, along with AHA (Australian Hotels and Hospitality Association) in Victoria gave donations totaling AUD75,000 to front-bencher, Kevin Andrews.
Andrews was associated with pro-pokies lobby groups, according to anti-gambling campaigners, although no impropriety was ever established.
Sydney Casino Presence to Grow
If SW Sydney is the current home of the pokie, the city will soon form the country’s casino backbone.
Since James Packer’s Crown won the rights to build a new casino in the city, the harbour area of Barangaroo has been developed into Sydney’s most exciting new project.
Once complete, possibly in 2020, the multi-billion dollar Crown Sydney resort will boast a casino, 5-star hotel and conference centre.