'Harm minimisation' strategy failing with prediction of additional $600 million in pokies profits by 2020

The NSW Government’s own budget forecasts show its ‘harm minimisation’ strategies for poker machines will fail, predicting a massive $600 million  in additional profit  from poker machines in clubs and hotels over the next four years and an almost $200 million increase in gambling taxes. The 2016-17 budget forecasts obtained by The Greens show:

  • a projected $277,070,971 increase in profits from poker machines in  hotels from 2016-2020.
  • a projected $334,117,440 increase in profits from poker machines in clubs from 2016-2020.
  • an additional $189,095,496 in pokies taxes from clubs and hotels combined from 2016-2020

At the same time, poker machine numbers reduced by 348 in the 12 months to June 2016 from 98,002 to 97,654[i]. NSW Greens MP Justin Field said the budget forecasts make a mockery of the Government’s ‘gradual reduction strategy’ and rhetoric of ‘harm minimisation’ when it comes to poker machines in NSW.

“The Government and industry make noises about harm minimisation and responsible gambling but the budget forecasts show they are anticipating a significant increase in the harm these machines do in the NSW community. Clubs, hotels and the Government’s will profit from this harm to the tune of $600 million over the next four years taking total expected annual profits to $6.62 Billion by 2020,” Mr Field said today. “The Government’s own budget forecasts show it expects the current harm minimisation approach will fail, and despite a reduction in the number of machines over the period, profits to the gambling clubs and hotels will increase and losses to the community will grow. NSW is home to almost half the poker machines in Australia and 10% of machines globally. “These machines are designed to make people play to extinction.

We know they trigger the same reward pathways in the brain as cocaine or ice and can lead to addiction. The harm caused in the community is significant including through relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, homelessness and suicide. “The NSW Government’s messages promoting ‘harm minimisation’ and ‘responsible gambling’ are not credible when we see at the same time they are projecting huge profit increases for the industry. “I’m calling on NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole to put people before pokies and implement genuine harm minimisation approaches such as $1 maximum bets, rapidly reducing the number of machines in NSW and empowering communities with venue-by-venue data on poker machine losses in their local area,” he said.

Spreadsheet with copy of Treasury documents available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B9GFQCz85cceRG5wemJzdHlwdTA?usp=sharing Question asked by Justin Field in the Legislative Council today: My Question without notice is to the honourable Niall Blair representing the Minister for Racing, Minister, Last year the NSW community lost approximately $8 billion on the pokies.

Your Government’s most recent budget forecasts predict an increase in club profits – which also represents losses to the community - of more than $600 million over the next 4 years. How can your Government claim to support harm minimisation strategies to reduce the social [i] Budget estimates transcript, 1 September 2016, Questions to Racing Minister Troy Grant by Mr Justin Field, p30


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