The NSW Greens have slammed the Berijiklian Government for misleading the community about recent pokies law changes following an admission from the NSW Treasurer that legislation passed in March this year will result in an increase in pokies profits and see poker machines move to areas of higher gambling losses.
In response to questions from the Greens as part of budget estimates, the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrotte admitted:
“New leasing arrangements are assumed to make a small positive contribution to the growth of gaming revenue, through a slower decline in the number of gaming machine entitlements and increased intensity of use of existing gaming machine entitlements.”
NSW Greens Gambling Harm Spokesperson Justin Field said, ”The NSW Government has misled the community about the impact of the law changes.
“When Minister Toole introduced the legislation to Parliament he claimed it would “protect those most impacted by gambling-related harms” but we finally see an admission the machines are being concentrated into areas already significantly impacted by gambling and industry profits are set to rise.
“I warned at the time these leasing arrangements would slow machine forfeiture rates and concentrate machines into higher profit areas, increasing gambling losses and harm to the community. The Government has finally admitted that the Greens analysis was right.
“Clubs NSW called my claims at the time alarmist and baseless but now my warnings have been shown by the Government’s own admission to have been accurate and entirely justified,” Mr Field said.
Poker machine profits in NSW are set to reach almost $7bn by 2021 growing more than 12% over the next four years with the new leasing laws contributing to the profit increase.
At the time of the passage of the laws the Greens estimated the legislative changes, including the new lease arrangements, would boost profits by as much as $80 million a year.
“The forecast profit increases represent a total failure of Government policy to address gambling harm within our community. Poker machine harm in NSW is set to get worse, not better, and that is a direct result of this Government’s policy,” Mr Field said.
“Implementing a leasing scheme was a key plant of the NSW Liberal/National deal with Clubs NSW in their 2014 Memorandum of Understanding.
“It is now clear that these special deals are primarily about protecting and increasing industry profits. The new deal signed last month in the lead up to the 2019 NSW State Election should be ripped up.
“The Greens are calling for a Special Commission of Inquiry into the influence of the gambling industry on NSW politics.
Photo - Peter Braig