Who Owns Poker Machines in Australia?

who owns poker machines in australia

Australia’s owners of poker machines (pokies) wield an unsettling degree of power over Macquarie Street and federal parliament. Their huge profits enable them to hire lobbyists that push them into government decisions which harm communities while their profits help fend off calls for reform; furthermore they possess enough cash reserves to buy media and sway elections with advertising dollars that sway results in their favor.

Clubs NSW, the peak industry body for NSW gambling clubs, has released a secret report detailing its staggering influence. Fairfax Media obtained it and it details how gambling generates profits that dwarf those generated by traditional pubs – and these profits have steadily grown since 2007. According to Clubs NSW’s own estimates, pokie net profits have more than doubled annually since 2007, earning on average $100,000 per machine annually in NSW alone; whilst those operating under Tasmania’s cashless card system take home three times less.

NSW adults lose nearly twice as much to pokies each year than any other Western nation, with an estimated turnover of $95 billion per year for this industry.

Woolworths, Coles and the AMP-backed Black Rhino group are reaping huge profits thanks to pokies or fruit machines (known as pokies in Victoria and NSW respectively), which generate an average hourly payout percentage of 95% or more.

But the public is growing disgruntled with profits being made and wants reforms to limit them, with Labor leader Chris Minns of NSW promising reforms similar to those seen in Tasmania. These measures would include card-based systems which prevent gamblers from losing more than $100 a day, $500 monthly, or $5,000 annually and will force people to register their identity while giving an account of how much is spent and for how long. While such systems exist already within casinos such as Crown Casino, but none has yet been implemented broadly within gambling markets like NSW.

Card-based system won’t stop all criminals using pokies to launder money, but it should make it more difficult for them to hide their identities and reduce gambling harm in communities represented by Labor. Numerous voluntary trials have shown that when such systems aren’t universal, gamblers find ways to bypass it, but the policy would have an enormous impact on black markets and problem gamblers; offering NSW an opportunity to lead by example and regulate this industry effectively.