Problem gambling on pokies in New South Wales is under fire with the launch of a new Greens campaign.
Candidates in Fairfield have set up a Local Government 5 Points Gambling Protection Package to help fight the effects of gambling addiction in the area. According to latest reports, Fairfield has among the highest pokie machine losses in the state.
“The most recent statistics about gaming in Australia have been pretty disturbing,” said Greens mayoral hopeful, Bill Cashman.
“We’re a long way behind a need to do something about it.”
Greens Push For Gambling Alliance Tie-In
A cap on pokies numbers at clubs in Fairfield is among the proposals being put forward. Fairfield has over 3,300 machines across its pubs and clubs, a number that critics say is too high.
The Greens also want Fairfield powers to support the new Alliance for Gambling Reform. Set up by prominent anti-pokies campaigners like Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon, the Alliance is aiming to put caps on pokie betting limits and reduce machines across the board.
“Everything the clubs do for the community and providing entertainment venues is a great thing,” Cashman added.
“But they treat gaming as a business and they’re not thinking about the individuals that are affected.”
Fairfield Fares Worst In Sydney Suburbs
Pokies clubs profits are coming from some of Australia’s poorest communities, new reports suggest.
A Fairfax investigation last year showed that disadvantages suburbs of Sydney were faring worst, with billions gambled on machines each year.
Government statistics acquired by Fairfax Media showed that Fairfield gamblers ploughed over a billion bucks into pokies during the period 2011-15. Taking into account average incomes in the area, plus skills and education, Fairfield was named Sydney’s “most disadvantaged area” in the report.
Next on the list of shame was Auburn with $363 million of pokie machine spend. Bankstown, Canterbury, and Holroyd also fared badly in the list. And RTP (Return to Player percentages) are to blame, some argue.
Land-based pokies used to have a payout of around 87 percent. However, changes to the way machines are programmed have led to an increase in RTPs. An anonymous gaming executive in New South Wales told Sydney Morning Herald that an increase in RTPs to around 92-94 percent has meant “players get more entertainment, they stay on the machine longer and they get a good experience.
“The lower socioeconomic people need an escape. They get a good experience from gaming…they tend to spend more time [gambling].”
Aussie Councils Join The Fight On Gambling
Fairfield’s push to support the Alliance for Gambling Reform comes days after several other councils made donations to the cause.
Greater Dandenong Council in Victoria said it will contribute $25,000 to the Alliance after it emerged that local punters sunk almost $120 million into pokies over the past year. Greater Dandenong also suffers from one of the worst pokie losses rates in the whole of Victoria.
Hume Council in Vic also voted to support the new Alliance. The council favours the move to force the government to implement $1 betting limits on all pokies. The maximum loss per hour on machines would be capped at $120. A ban on sportsbetting firms advertising during daytime hours is also on the cards.