The Mayor of one of Sydney’s top gaming precincts has called for a ‘super tax’ on high-earning clubs, on the basis that the top-ranking venues are in the most disadvantaged areas.
Speaking to the ABC, Fairfield City Council Mayor Frank Carbone describes Fairfield as “the most disadvantaged” suburb in NSW, with “really high unemployment levels”.
He goes on to say it is no coincidence that the most profitable areas, such as Fairfield, Cumberland and Bankstown, where the most turnover is generated by poker machines, are also the areas with the most people struggling with day-to-day life.
Carbone points to the fact that only select, licensed venues can operate gaming machines, giving them “a monopoly” and that the Crime Commission recommended measures to combat money laundering.
In lieu of adopting the reforms, Carbone suggests more is returned to local communities – in partnership with councils, as they already possess the infrastructure to fairly distribute the resources across the area.
The ABC’s host pushed back, quoting a statement by ClubsNSW citing how clubs already paid $1.4bn in taxes annually, and asking if the mayor’s point wasn’t more about the money not being spent on causes he supported.
In response, Carbone reiterated the monopolistic nature of gaming and said the point being conveyed by ClubsNSW was “completely wrong”.
He re-emphasised that his proposal only referred to clubs making more than $20 million in annual profit, and explained that such clubs only pay 26 per cent tax rate, while a privately-owned hotel would pay 50 per cent.
Asked about the efficacy of the ClubGrants scheme, the mayor explained that councils don’t get anything from it specifically, as the money allocated may not go where it was generated.
Carbone twice offered that that they are “not against clubs” – but think more should be going back into the community.
He stressed that clubs “do some great work” and are not-for-profit – but so are councils.
“What we’re saying is, partner with councils, and together, using the council’s infrastructure, we can actually make our community a better place, and take away some of the harm – encourage people not just to go to clubs, because clubs just keep building up, but to go to your local area,” Carbone told the ABC.
In the climate following the election of the Minns administration in March, the Fairfield Mayor is concerned the government is pandering to ClubsNSW and not looking after communities, “especially the forgotten communities of western Sydney”.