NSW pokies: What’s the Scam?

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NSW has the world’s worst pokies losses per capita at $7 billion per year, equivalent to more than $1,200 for each adult. It’s a boon for the state’s coffers but the government is proposing reforms to stem the losses, or is it? What’s the scam?

The scam is fake reforms. According to this week’s NSW Budget papers, they are anticipating higher revenues from gaming, not lower. The 2021-22 NSW budget predicts its tax revenue from pokies will rise by 7.8% to more than $2 billion over the next four years.

“From 2021-22, stronger household income is expected to increase forecast gaming device revenue by $127.2 million over the four years to 2024-25”, the budget papers said.

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So how does this statement square with reforms that NSW’s Gambling Minister Victor Dominello is planning supposedly as a way to stem gambling losses? The minister is planning to introduce cashless pokies statewide, to minimise gambling losses and money-laundering activities by requiring patrons to register and pre-load money to a government-regulated card. The Nationals have rejected the plan. 

If the government is serious about helping people who gamble, why is Treasury forecasting that revenue will actually increase? Real gambling reform would include measures such as reducing the $10 maximum bet to $1, as the Productivity Commission has recommended on multiple occasions.

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