The gambling controversy in New South Wales (NSW) continues with the government now being accused of bending over and giving into the demands of ClubsNSW – the body representing the country’s gambling industry.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian recently signed a four-year pokie machine agreement with the gambling lobby amid the ongoing debate on the Sydney Opera House horse racing advertisement.
ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said the latest deal would lead to more charities and more social infrastructure being built in the state. Over the next four years, NSW clubs’ contributions to the government are expected to exceed $3bn.
No Increase in Gambling Taxes
Gambling taxes will remain the same should the Liberal Party government win in next year’s state election according to a commitment made by the Premier. The government will not change the level of mandatory community contributions from clubs, but they will increase support to communities ravaged by drought.
Some of the other measures include equipping staff with extra training so they could help identify problem gamblers. A regional club trainee program will also be established. Gaming venues will be able to grant requests from families to ban gambling addicts. There will be a decrease in the maximum amount of money to be loaded on pokie machines. From $7,500, the amount will drop to $5,000 but it will still be the highest in Australia.
Paul Toole who is the Racing Minister for NSW said clubs provide a sense of connection in communities along with a venue to socialize, something the current Government recognized and understood.
Government Faces Flak For Disgraceful Measures
Tom Costello of the Alliance for Gambling Reform said the problem gambling measures unveiled by the government will not make any difference. The staunch gambling critic feared major pokie machine reforms which are long overdue could face further delays and remain pending till 2023.
Costello described Sunday’s report as “disgraceful” and said recent events, including the Opera House saga, clearly show how NSW politicians are captured by the ruthless and greedy gambling industry. Costello said Premier Berejiklian owes the public an explanation for bowing down to the gambling industry twice in one week.
There are currently 92,000 pokie machines currently operating in the state and each year close to $7 billion is spent on these machines. Costello said the state’s pokies regulations are among the weakest in the world, which resulted in $24 billion being lost on pokie machines since the last memorandum signed in October 2014.