December 19, 2023 3 min read


Australia’s NT Gambling Losses Reach Record Highs

Gamblers spent a staggering AUD 149 million on poker machines during 2022-23, highlighting the country’s ongoing struggle with problem gaming

As the festive season approaches, concerns are mounting in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) over the AUD 15 million ($10.1 million) year-on-year rise in gambling losses among its populace. This trend roughly matches other regions in the country, placing increasing pressure on local authorities and the federal government to implement better player protection policies and curb the growing gambling addiction epidemic.

Gambling Tax Income Comes at a Price

Recent data from the NT’s Department of Industry, Tourism, and Trade exposes the immense daily average of AUD 411,000 ($277,000) poured into poker machines across the region. Nearly half of these losses occurred in Darwin, where 722 pokies operate within 31 venues. This sum amounts to AUD 149 million ($100.42 million)  spent on poker machines in 2022-23, a worrying AUD 15 million increase.

Despite this worrying trend, higher poker machine profits contributed to the NT government’s substantial revenue of AUD 48.4 million ($32.62 million) from gaming machine taxes and an additional AUD 15.1 million ($10.18 million) from a community benefit levy raised by casinos and hotels last fiscal year. While these results underscore the financial significance of gambling within the region, they also caused significant player safety concerns.

Government data showing a recurrent December increase and subsequent January decrease in poker machine losses over the past three years has triggered concerns as welfare groups and researchers believe financial stressors and heightened emotions during the holiday season can be particularly detrimental to vulnerable individuals. These can be especially problematic in a society already struggling with addiction.

The Problem Is Not Isolated to NT

While NT’s gambling losses are impressive, they pale compared to other regions like New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, where this figure reaches well into the billions. Kim Caudwell, a senior lecturer in psychology at Charles Darwin University (CDU), told ABC News that Australians had a cultural affinity for gambling, noting that the government’s efforts to curtail this phenomenon were a monumental task.

Australians love to gamble. It’s something that’s very much embedded in our culture.

Kim Caudwell, CDU senior lecturer in psychology

Regions like New South Wales have undertaken extensive measures to combat this worrying trend. The upcoming cashless gambling trial shows substantial promise. If this measure is successful, it will be a significant milestone in Australia’s battle against problem gaming and may inspire other regions to follow suit. While NT has made some efforts to reduce the number of pokies in public venues, its efforts have been largely ineffective.

As concerns escalate, stakeholders urge proactive measures, emphasizing the urgency to support problem gamblers, address the root causes of addiction, and implement comprehensive strategies to counteract the societal impact of excessive gambling. The federal government faces rising pressure for rapid reform, but it cannot do so without the cooperation of local authorities.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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