Pokies: an Australian’s dark affair, a statistical review

New South Wales is where the first set of legalised poker machines was originally set up back in 1956. From then it spread to ACT in ’76, followed by Victoria in ’91 and South Australia in ’92. In 1997, Tasmania got its first taste of poker machines, followed by the Northern Territory the next year.

The country is estimated to posses around 196,900 machines, with the most in New South Wales where around 95,012 machines are located. Experts estimate that the country has more poker machines for every person than in any other country, the only exceptions being the gambling destinations of Monaco and Macau.

Pokies & Government

Not only does the country account some of the largest numbers of poker machines, but also records the most loss in gambling in the entire world. An annual loss of AU $12.5 billion was reported in 2013-14, with casinos accounting for $1.5 billion alone. This works out to about an annual loss of around AU$ 700 for every adult. State governments benefit from its citizen’s dark affair with pokies, ramping up AU $3.2 billion as taxes in 2013-14. This is staggering amount is around 5% of all taxes levied.

An estimate annual income of AU$ 56,000 is generated from pokies within hotels and clubs. Some states generate more like Victoria where this estimate reaches AU 200,000 per year. Unfortunately, most poker machines are located in areas of poor suburban Australia. For example, Fairfield in Western Sydney reported losses of AU$ 2340 between 2010 and 2010, whereas the wealthy regions like Willoughby and Ku-ring-gai reported losses of just AU$ 270.

Possible solutions to control gambling include banning casino machines outside premises, reducing the maximum bet limit, and introducing playing limits. These reforms have gained popularity with more than 70% of the population agreeing to strict and tightly controlled gambling.