January 11, 2023 2 min read


Western Australia Illustrates the Damages Resulting from Poker Machines

Western Australia has the lowest rates of gambling addiction and losses in Australia due to its prohibition on poker machines

Josh Nicholas, a data journalist at Guardian Australia, published an analysis, according to which the state of Western Australia has the lowest rates of gambling losses per capita in the country because poker machines are banned everywhere except in casinos. In addition, problems resulting from gambling are much more common in other states.

Fewer Poker Machines, Fewer Symptoms of Problematic Gambling

Per the comprehensive data available, in 2018-2019, the last years before the Covid 19 pandemic, there were approximately 2,400 poker machines in Western Australia, which is less than one per 1,000 people. For the sake of comparison, in the same period, there were over 91,000 machines in New South Wales, which is more than 10 times per capita.

During the last ten years, the enormous number of pokies has been reflected in gambling expenditure. In his analysis, Nicholas states that in Western Australia, total gambling expenditure per capita is less than the lost amount per capita on pokies alone in NSW.

Angela Rintoul, a senior research fellow in public health at Federation University, said that in contrast to betting on lotteries, poker machines are created for people to create addiction. She calls pokies “the perfect kind of money trap”

Previously, the productivity commission has identified that approximately 85% of people who have suffered harm, listed electronic machines as the principal problem. However, according to experts, there is not enough research on the differences in gambling harm between Australian states.

Dr Francis Markham, a research fellow at the Australian National University, states that the other states in Australia report 1.6 times more symptoms of problem gambling than Western Australia, based on the latest Hilda survey. He adds that the money that would have been spent on bets on poker machines if there were no such restrictions in Western Australia, is not placed in any other form of gambling.

Disproportionate Gaming Machine Expenditure in the Australian States

Previous research by Rintoul has indicated that poker machines, where they are allowed, are much more widespread in areas of greater disadvantage.

“The industry knows where they’ll make money,” Angela Rintoul, a senior research fellow in public health at Federation University

Rintoul also adds that about 40% of Australian social clubs are located in NSW, where 30% of the Australian population is located. In Western Australia, there are 8.2% of the clubs and the state has 10% of the population.


Yasmin is an iGaming and gaming journalist with over 10 years of writing about various publications. Her experience spans the entirety of iGaming, traditional sports, as well as online poker. She is well-versed in every aspect of online gaming and her wealth of knowledge provides additional substance to our coverage.

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