May 1, 2023 3 min read


NSW’s Pokies Industry Has Recovered at the Expense of Vulnerable People, Critics Say

Critics say that the recovery of the pokies industry hurt people who hoped to win money to cover their everyday expenses

Liquor and Gaming NSW, a regulatory body responsible for gambling in the Australian state of New South Wales, has published the local pokies industry’s 2022 results. The financial figures show that the sector has rebounded since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic but some fear this might be at the expense of the players’ safety.

For reference, the annual pokies profits in 2022 hit AUD 8.1 billion and exceeded the 2019 results by 22%. Meanwhile, clubs profits also surpassed the pre-pandemic levels, increasing by 16% in 2022.

ABC News used official data from Liquor and Gaming NSW to create an interactive map showing the pokies profits in different areas. As it turns out Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Cumberland singlehandedly accounted for 20% of the NSW clubs and hotels profits in H2 2022.

The results caused the NSW government to increase its 2022-23 tax revenue guidance by $423 million to $2.1 billion.

Pokies Give an Illusory Hope to Struggling Demographics

The recovery was attributed to people’s pent-up demand for pokies. Unfortunately, many got into playing not for fun but hoping to win money for their everyday necessities – an illusory hope, according to Wesley Mission CEO Stuart Cameron.

As reported by ABC News, Cameron, who believes that pokies are part of a predatory industry, said that the vertical took advantage of vulnerable people who had been devastated by the pandemic. This view was echoed by Tom Nance, a researcher from the Centre for Western Sydney, who said that the rising cost of living has prompted many people to try their luck at pokies.

Nance, an avid advocate for gambling reform, noted that in Western Sydney, pokies players have been losing millions each day. According to data from the second half of 2022, players were collectively losing as much as $9.6 million a day.

Cameron lambasted operators for placing gambling machines in places where they would drive the most profit since these locations are usually in deprived areas. He said that the fact that Canterbury-Bankstown LGA leads the chart in terms of pokies revenue proves that. For reference, the area has 3,822 machines, which collectively earned $204 million.

Cameron fears that operators will continue to perfect their products, making them even more addictive. He slammed extra marketing tactics such as member-only competitions, free drinks and free food, which encourage customers to stay.

The programs are tiered so that the more money you lose, the more “benefits“ you derive from the program.

Stuart Cameron, CEO, Wesley Mission

For Alex Greenwich, independent Sydney MP, the recent results prove that NSW should continue to push for the introduction of cashless gaming, which many believe would lower problem gambling rates and prevent fraud.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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