Unions NSW calling for massive reduction in pokies

March 6, 2024
Clyde Mooney

The leading union movement in NSW has jumped into the debate against gambling by demanding a dramatic reduction in the number of EGMs in the state.

Unions NSW represents a series of affiliated unions, spanning 600k members. 

It issued a briefing paper to members stating that gambling has direct and indirect effects on workers who were employed in venues with poker machines.

Acknowledging that a complete ban on the machines would be “unrealistic” the body presented and passed a resolution at its annual general meeting last week demanding the state government reduce machine numbers by at least 25k over the next five years.

NSW has a little over 87k EGMs, equating to approximately one per 95 people. Queensland has 50k EGMs, amounting to around one for every 109 people.

The reduction being called for would bring NSW in line with Queensland, and amounts to a major intervention in the voice for gambling reform, adding significant pressure to the Minns government’s agenda.

Since being elected last March, the Labor government in NSW has implemented a range of measures including a commitment to reducing the number of EGMs by increasing the forfeit rate, from the current rate of one entitlement forfeited per three traded, to one in two.

Amendments to the Gaming Machines Regulation have already seen the state’s cap on poker machine entitlements for clubs and pubs lowered by more than 3k.

But Unions NSW states that close to half of the $25 billion Australians lose to gambling each year is through poker machines, and its resolution calls for more than the reduction, urging a moratorium on new licences in pubs or clubs, and the cancellation of licences if venues close or relocate – eliminating the moving of machines.

Unions say they are ready to work with government on a “robust reform process” and suggest the $1 billion tax subsidy for EGMs in registered clubs might be used to compensate operators, although adding that any compensation “should be minimal” given the profits the machines have historically made.

“The brutal truth about poker machines is that supply creates demand,” declares Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey, although the veracity of the statement is unclear.

Similarly, gambling reform crusader Tim Costello was quoted on the matter incorrectly declaring that NSW has 35 per cent of the world’s poker machines in clubs and pubs.


Tags

poker machine numbers, Unions NSW


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