Calls to Address ‘Toxic’ Pokie Stronghold in NSW
12 July 2017 at 4:50 pm
The nation’s leading advocacy anti-gambling body has applauded a move by the Fairfield Council in NSW to demand the state government ban the introduction of any new poker machines in high risk areas.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has backed the move, made on Monday, and has called on all NSW councils to be part of a campaign to see the government cap poker machine revenue and introduce tougher legislation.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesperson Stephen Mayne told Pro Bono News gambling in NSW had reached toxic levels.
“NSW is the worst jurisdiction in Australia for pokie domination. The losses there are $5.7 billion a year. They are the most pokie concentrated jurisdiction in the world outside of Nevada,” Mayne said.
“It is a toxic industry and has created a lot of misery in communities and is linked with family violence and crime.”
Fairfield Council, currently ranked as Sydney’s most disadvantaged area, has the state’s highest gambling turnover with $8 billion pumped into poker machines in a single year.
Mayne said the Fairfield Council area was “ground zero for pokie rip-offs in Australia” and “enough was enough”.
“The data shows they are the most harmed community in Australia. We are delighted they have gone public,” Mayne said.
“The council has said ‘enough’, and has gone on record to the government saying ‘do something about this’.”
Mayne said the council’s stand could be the catalyst to see greater change in NSW and Australia around gambling legislation.
“We are planning a very big campaign around this, we are contacting all of the candidates running in the 9 September elections, like we did in Victoria, where we have a lot of support from councils. We are looking at developing a council-driven campaign for change in NSW,” he said.
Mayne said the alliance was calling for the NSW government to pledge to cap annual losses in NSW to $5 billion.
He said the alliance also called for legislation that would lower the maximum bet, ban ATMs and childcare centres in clubs, and remove the pokies’ exemption from NSW lock out laws.
Mayne said councils had an important role to play in gambling reform as major political parties were in a gridlock.
“The state is totally captured by the gambling industry,” Mayne said.
“We want to see a ban of political donations from the gambling industry.”
Mayne said the alliance was also calling on the Catholic church and the Labor Party to sell their stake in poker machines operating in Canberra and across NSW.