$94m punt on poker machines

More than one quarter of  million dollars a day was put through poker machines in Cabonne, Weddin and Forbes Shire pubs and clubs in 2017, with $9.4 million stripped from the community in gambling profits and taxes.

Total turnover through machines was $94.4 million, with 10 per cent of that profit for operators and government tax, and 90 per cent returned to players in the form of payouts.

Comparatively, Cowra had $57 million in turnover last year and Hilltops (Young) and Yass had a combined $139.6 million. 

Cabonne, Weddin and Forbes had 289 poker machines at 30 venues in the LGAs, while Cowra had 171 machines at 11 premises and Hilltops/Yass had 359 at 30 locations.

The Greens’ Gambling Harm spokesperson Justin Field said: “What we are seeing across some areas of western NSW is the highest level of per capita losses experienced anywhere,” Mr Field said.

Mr Field said NSW was one of the most saturated markets worldwide for poker machines.

“NSW is in a unique position because it has 10 per cent of all the world’s poker machines. There are 95,000 machines in the state while in most countries, they are only in casinos.

“The only place that has more poker machines than NSW is Nevada.”

Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson said while problem gambling was a addiction that could ruin lives, he said poker machines were just one form of gambling.

“You have so many forms of gambling, poker machines, keno, horses, dogs and betting on every possible sport through online betting,” Mr Ferguson said.

“If you are going to look at gambling, look at all strains.”

Mr Ferguson said people who were problem gamblers tended to use more than one betting method and a crackdown on one would push them to another.

Mr Field said he acknowledged poker machine revenue formed the bulk of money used in the ClubGRANTS scheme that helped community development. However he said the model needed to change.