Australians Lost $135B on Pokies in NSW in 30 Years

A new survey by Wesley Mission has taken a closer look at how much money was spent on pokies in the past 30 years. The survey estimates that at least $135 billion were lost in New South Wales alone, along with 66 billion in Victoria in three decades of play.

Pokie Machines and How Much They Cost Gamblers

The survey noted that the concentration of poker machines in NSW was particularly high with the state accounting for nearly half of the 200,000 machines available and licensed nationwide. All of these machines are placed in accessible points and venues and have been a part of the local pubs and clubs, the survey continued.

With New South Wales also among the first states to introduce these machines back in 1956, not all has been done well. Wesley Mission CEO Stu Cameron has criticized an industry that he described as prioritizing “profits first” at the expense of the general public.

Cameron went on to explain that Australians lost an estimated $25 billion every year participating in gambling with at least half of this amount attributed directly to poker machines. However, the problem is particularly worse in NSW, the executive believes, as the government has allowed for much self-regulation over the past years, enabling businesses to engage in “predatory practices.”

Gambling is a problem in NSW and most of Australia as a pair of high-profile probes into the country’s leading gambling groups, Crown Resorts, and Star Entertainment Group resulted in shocking discoveries of systematic financial and regulatory breaches.

The result of these investigations led to the NSW Independent Casino Commission, a new regulator, coming to life with the newly-fangled watchdog allowed to impose fines up to AU$100 million. The Commission has not yet started work officially. The underlying problem with poker machines may remain intact, though, as pokies are not illegal or breaching any existing laws.

Rather, the machines are not regulated in a way that better protects consumers, the survey and executive argue. Wesley Mission is committed to enacting meaningful and deeper changes in the way poker machines in Australia are regulated, Cameron said. Wesley Mission has welcomed the recent investigation into Star Entertainment and said that meaningful recommendations have already come to light.

More Consumer-Focused Measures Now Available

For example, the organization is happy with the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s decision to integrate better player protection measures. ILGA will be replaced by the Commission in due time. NSW has already outlined measures to protect customers as well, especially those who are most at-risk of problem gambling and addiction.

Wesley Mission has explained in a press release that the organization was not against the institution of gambling, but rather against those dubious practices that were linked to consumer harm. As the organization puts it, it’s “in it for the long-term” hoping to enact meaningful change.

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