$8b in NSW poker machine losses demands action - Government’s sham cashless card trial still yet to start
20 Oct 2023
NSW Premier Chris Minns should immediately scrap his needless trial of a gambling cashless card and introduce the card now, in the wake of new figures showing the State suffered a record $8 billion in poker machine losses last financial year.
The record loss figures affirms past evidence that spikes in gambling losses occur during times of financial stress and hardship.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Chief Advocate, Rev. Tim Costello, said Premier Minns could assist families hard hit by the cost-of-living crisis by immediately introducing a mandatory, pre-commitment gambling card.
“It is tragically clear that people who are under severe financial stress are looking for hope and they are seeking it in poker machines. The catastrophic and inevitable financial loss they suffer is a nightmare for families and communities across Australia,” he said.
“There is clear evidence that a mandatory, pre-commitment cashless gambling card – which lets people set a limit on their losses – would both dramatically reduce gambling harm as well as tackle money laundering through poker machines.”
“This was the findings of the NSW Crime Commission report that was delivered prior to the last State election.”
Rev. Costello said instead of offering bipartisan support for the cashless gambling card, Mr Minns proposed a sham trial.
“It is a trial that is still yet to begin. People are hurting across NSW from gambling losses like never before and the government is still consulting with industry. They are fiddling while Rome burns.”
Rev. Costello said even if the trial began this financial year, implementation could still take two years.
“The government boasts about the $100m over five years it is devoting to gambling harm reduction but this is akin to putting an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff. A cashless gambling card would reduce the level of gambling – it would effectively put a fence at the top of the cliff to stop people going over,” Rev. Costello said.
The Alliance recently released the latest poker machine losses for FY 2022/23 which showed losses in NSW had jumped by more than 20% to over $8b since FY 18/19, the last year in which operations were not interrupted by COVID-19.
The figures were collated for the Alliance by the Gambling and Social Determinants Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University show that across five poker machine losses spiked to $14.5b - 13.7% higher than 2018-19.
Tim Costello is available for interview.
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704