Unions NSW AGM Resolution on Gambling Reform

Australians outspend the citizens of every other country on online gambling[1] with $95 billion turned over in poker machines in NSW pubs and clubs each year – equivalent to almost three times the NSW Health budget. Of the $25 billion Australians lose to gambling every year, poker machines account for $11.7 billion.

Unions NSW acknowledges a complete ban on poker machines is unrealistic. However, there is a need to phase down the number of poker machines in our State, strengthen the fragmented and weak regulatory frameworks which govern gambling and commit additional funding for preventative educational and support measures for individuals and communities.

Unions NSW notes gambling has both a direct and indirect effect on workers employed in venues where poker machines are located and this, as a work, health and safety issue, must be considered in policy decisions by government, including implementing compulsory training on gambling harm for anyone working in a gambling facility.

NSW Poker Machines

The top 6 LGAs for expenditure for the first nine months of 2022 were:

LGAFIRST NINE MONTHS2022 ESTIMATE$ PER ADULT (ANNUAL)
Canterbury-Bankstown$511,159,244.00$623,614,278.00$2,197.00
Fairfield$507,913,493.00$619,654,462.00$3,810.00
Cumberland$342,236,004.00$417,527,925.00$2,527.00
Blacktown$224,705,359.00$274,140,538.00$940.00
Sydney$261,685,728.00$319,256,589.00$1,649.00
Central Coast$239,306,657.00$291,954,122.00$1,075.00

NSW has 30 per cent more poker machines in NSW than in Queensland and Victoria combined[2] and profits from these gaming machines in clubs and pubs in NSW hit a record $3.8 billion in the first half of 2022.

The NSW Crime Commission labelled NSW the “gambling capital of Australia” because of the vast sums of cash flowing through poker machine in pubs and clubs.  In its recent report, the commission recommended reform after detailing rivers of dirty money flowing through poker machines and people committing crimes to feed their poker machine use.

Comparable jurisdictions[3]

  • Australian Capital Territory

The ACT has a total of 5,200 gaming machines all of which are located in clubs and hotels. Casino Canberra is the only casino in the ACT and does not have any gaming machines.

  • Northern Territory

The Northern Territory has 2,195 gaming machines located in clubs, hotels and the two casinos operating in the territory – Sky City and Lasseters.

  • New South Wales

New South Wales leads the country with 87,298 gaming machines which are located in clubs, hotels and the Star Casino in Sydney.

  • Queensland

There are almost 50,000 machines found in Queensland in clubs, hotels and four casinos located around the State with Brisbane’s Treasury Casino having the most games.

  • South Australia

South Australia has a total of 13,113 machines which are found in clubs, hotels and Adelaide Casino.

  • Tasmania

In Tasmania there are 3,680 machines locates in both hotels and clubs and at the two casinos (Wrest Point and Country Club)

  • Victoria

Gaming machines in Victoria total 30,000 and are found in hotels, clubs and at Crown Melbourne which has the largest amount of games in Australia.

  • Western Australia

In WA there are a total of 1,750 gaming machines located at Crown Perth.

STATENUMBER OF GAMING MACHINESGAMING MACHINE LOCATIONSTOTAL STATE POPULATION**RATIO OF PEOPLE TO POKER MACHINES
New South Wales87,298Clubs, hotels & Star Casino8,339,30095.53
Queensland50,000Clubs, hotels & four casinos5,459,400109.19
Victoria30,000Clubs, hotels & Crown Melbourne6,812,500227.08
South Australia13,113Clubs, hotels & Adelaide Casino1,815,700138.47
Australian Capital Territory*5,200Clubs & hotels only466,80089.77
Tasmania*3,680Clubs, hotels & two casinos572,800155.65
Northern Territory2,195Clubs, hotels & two casinos252,500115.03
Western Australia*1,750All in Crown Perth2,878,6001644.91
* Numbers slightly vary depending on websites.
** ABS June 2023.

If NSW had the same people/poker machine ratio as ACT, Queensland or Victoria we would have:

STATERATIO OF PEOPLE TO POKER MACHINESCOMPARATIVE REDUCTION
Queensland109.1976 374
Victoria227.0836 724
Australian Capital Territory*5,20092 896

Online Gambling

The Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) licences and regulates most online wagering service providers (WSPs) in Australia which includes 32 sports bookmakers and 2 betting exchanges with a total combined annual turnover of approximately $50 billion.

The recent House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs report into online gambling found current gambling advertising restrictions were ineffective and the lack of any regulatory action is exposing young children to gambling products and services and “leading a generation of young Australians who view gambling and sport as inextricably linked”[4].

Unions NSW AGM Resolution

The 2024 Annual General Meeting of Unions NSW call on the NSW Government to:

  1. reduce the number of poker machines in NSW through the following measures:
  • a moratorium on granting new poker machine licences in pubs and clubs;
  • where establishments with poker machines close or seek to relocate those licences be cancelled and the poker machines be removed from circulation;
  • phased five-year reduction of poker machines in NSW, to bring us, at a minimum, in line with Queensland (approximately 25,000 fewer poker machines); and
  • redirect the $1 billion tax subsidy for poker machines installed in registered clubs be used to compensate for the removal of licences. Compensation should be minimal given the historical profits made from those machines.

Further it calls on the Federal Government to immediately:

  1. prohibit all online gambling inducements and inducement advertising as per Recommendation 16 of the You win some, you lose more: Online Gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm report;
  2. legislate a comprehensive ban on all gambling advertising on all media – broadcast and online, that leaves no room for circumvention and phase this in over a 3 year period as per Recommendation 16 of the You win some, you lose more: Online Gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm report; and
  3. implement all 31 recommendations in the You win some, you lose more: Online Gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, June 2023, Canberra.

[1] You win some, you lose more: Online Gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, June 2023, Canberra

[2] Wesley Mission study

[3] Pokie Regulations In Australia, OnlinePokies.com – Your Online Guide to Pokies & Poker Machine Information, Website: https://www.onlinepokies.com/state-regulations.htm#:~:text=Gaming%20and%20Racing-,Queensland,Casino%20having%20the%20most%20games.&text=Note%20Acceptors%20%3A%20Accept%20%245%2C%20%2410%2C%20%2420%2C%20%2450%20notes.

[4] You win some, you lose more: Online Gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, June 2023, Canberra pg. iv