Putting a brake on the pokies

Putting a brake on the pokies

“They are profitable, accessible and deeply harmful. Dotted in pubs and clubs across the state – they are dangerous and designed to addict. In no other place is gambling so ubiquitous. But it doesn’t have to be this way” (Wesley Mission, Put Pokies in their Place campaign)

In the lead up to the NSW state election, Uniting is jointly hosting an on-line forum on reducing the harm caused by poker machines.

The forum will take place on Monday 20 March, 7.00pm to 8.15 pm.

With expert speakers from the Alliance for Gambling Reform and Wesley Mission, the forum will shine a light on poker machine gambling, the damage it causes and what must be done to curb the pokie industry’s predatory behaviour and devastating impacts.

Why this forum is needed

As of June 30 last year NSW had 86,840 electronic gaming machines. Last year over just three months (92 days), NSW gamblers lost more than $ 2.1 billion.  Daily profits for pubs and clubs from poker machines reached $23.7 million a day in that period.

The harms caused by poker machines are also extensive.  The effects can be mental, social and even physical. Estimates of the number of people harmed by gambling in NSW ranges from over 900,000 to 1.7 million. This is a public health crisis.

While the impact of poker machines is widespread, they are concentrated in less advantaged communities. It is those with least who lose the most to poker machines and bear the greatest burden of injury.

In addition to the harms to individuals and families,  successive inquiries in NSW revealed another dirty secret.  Poker machines across the state are used by organised crime to launder money. Poker machine reform presents the opportunity to address these two major problems – the economic and social damage caused by poker machines and the operations of organised crime.

The poker machine industry is not only very profitable for those who control it, it also makes significant contributions to governments through tax revenue and political donations. This has contributed to a lack of transparency and accountability within the industry and hampered its proper regulation.

But now in NSW the tide seems to be turning. Poker machine reform has become a public issue attracting strong media attention. Both major parties have indicated they will support or at least consider implementing reform. This has never happened before.

What this forum will cover

This forum will describe the current state of poker machine gambling in NSW. We will hear about the impacts of gambling, the influence of the industry and learn why reforms are needed.  We will explore what policies are needed to reduce the harm from poker machines and how the major parties in the NSW election stack up in their response to these needed reforms. Importantly, we will hear what everyday people can do to support reform and reduce the harm of poker machines – whichever party wins the election.

Uniting is delighted to welcome our guest speakers for this forum:  Kate Seselja and Rev. Stu Cameron. Ms Seselja is the Voices for Gambling Reform Manager at the Alliance for Gambling Reform and Rev. Cameron is CEO and Superintendent Minister at Wesley Mission. Both bring expertise, commitment and insight to this issue. Each of their organisations has taken an important lead in achieving poker machine reform.

You can register for the forum here.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Jon O’Brien in the Uniting Advocacy team at joobrien@uniting.org or on 0477 725 528.


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