Gaming machine report's data shows almost $19 million net profit in region

ALL GONE: Liquor and Gaming NSW' report shows almost $19 million net profit has been made by electronic gaming machines in this region. Photo: FILE
ALL GONE: Liquor and Gaming NSW' report shows almost $19 million net profit has been made by electronic gaming machines in this region. Photo: FILE

POKER machine players in the region have lost almost $19 million to hotels and clubs during the past seven months, data from Liquor and Gaming NSW shows.

As the region suffers through one of the worst droughts on record, data shows that $18,951,287 was made in net gaming machine profits from December 2018 to June 2019 across 70 venues in the region.

The data includes hotels and clubs and was from the following local government areas: Cowra, Upper Lachlan, Weddin, Hilltops, Forbes, Parkes, Cootamundra-Gundagai, Junee, Yass and Temora.

These venues paid $2,717,945 in tax on the gaming machine profits during same time period.

The average net profit per machine was $17,166.

Alliance for Gambling Reform's Tim Costello claimed $779,000 an hour was lost on 93,165 machines across NSW in 2018.

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Lifeline Central West offers problem gambling counselling and chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson said she was shocked by the data, especially since much of this region was amid a devastating drought.

"It's incredibly concerning to me and it does shock me, but then I understand the power of addiction and it is a very strong addiction," she said. "It preys on quite vulnerable people ... they're [gaming machines] designed to be highly addictive."

Ms Robinson said hotels and clubs were often community hub offering cheap meals and free entertainment which "hook you in".

However in February, 2018, the Federal Court of Australia's Justice Debbie Mortimer cleared James Packer's Crown Resorts and Aristocrat Leisure of allegations that the well-known Dolphin Treasure poker machines were unlawfully deceptive and designed to feed addiction.

The NSW Gambling Survey 2019 found that 53 per cent of 10,000 people surveyed had gambled in the past 12 months and that one percent of the population were problem gamblers.

A ClubNSW spokesman said the net revenue earned by clubs from poker machines in the Cowra, Forbes, Parkes, Cootamundra and Hilltops local government areas (LGAs) in the past six months was up by just 0.17 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.

The spokesman said the ClubGRANTS scheme was a way for registered clubs to provide funds to sporting groups, charities and community organisations, and more than $4.7 million in ClubGRANTS funds and state taxation had been paid across these LGAs in the past year.

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Lifeline Central West is among the groups to have received assistance from ClubGRANTS.

The spokesman said clubs in these LGAs catered to more than 36,000 members, employed 380 people and "make an annual social contribution of $7.2 million".

Call Lifeline Central West on 1300 798 258 to make an appointment for gambling counselling.

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This story Almost $19 million lost to the pokies in this region, report shows first appeared on Cowra Guardian.