The NSW Greens have slammed today’s announcement that the NSW Coalition have signed a new pre-election agreement with Clubs NSW that will lock in the massive community harm caused by poker machines in NSW.
Poker machine profits in NSW are set to reach almost $7bn by 2021 growing more than 12% over the next four years. That is money that will come straight out of the pockets of local communities.
Greens NSW Gambling Harm spokesperson Justin Field said, “This is just the latest example of the NSW coalition siding with the vested interests in the gambling industry over the community interest. They should be signing an agreement with the people of NSW to address gambling harm, not an agreement with the pokies clubs industry.
“While the full details of the agreement are not yet to be made public, beneficial tax arrangements that have been reported will lock in profits for the pokies clubs and see the devastating consequences of gambling harm continue to grow in NSW.
“Under the last agreement signed in 2014 pokies profits have soared and more than $20 billion has been lost by communities.
“NSW has the highest number of poker machines in Australia and loses more money per person than any other jurisdiction in the world. This agreement will block essential reform to reduce the number of pokies and reduce harm.
“These sorts of agreements are anti-democratic and another example of vested special interests getting the ear of political parties while the community is shut out.
“Today’s announcement is even worse given the growing evidence of systemic failures in the regulation and enforcement of poker machines rules in NSW. We have seen hotels, clubs and casinos accused of unconscionable conduct in terms of machine tampering and using free drinks and keeping secret dossiers of players to encourage people to play more.
“It’s clear the NSW Government has a conflict of interest when it comes to regulating the pokies in the public interest by having a signed agreement with the clubs industry that protects their profits.
“At a time we should be holding a public inquiry into the behaviour of this industry, the Liberal National Coalition are giving them a free pass and locking in beneficial terms while ignoring the costs to the community.