Unions NSW insists the State government needs to do more to dramatically cut the number of poker machines in the state by at least 25,000 over the next five years.

During its annual general meeting, the union body passed a resolution that called for the NSW government to bring the number of poker machines down in line with Queensland.

Currently, there are nearly 87,300 poker machines in NSW – a ratio of one per 95 people – compared to Queensland where there are 50,000 poker machines, or one per 109 people.

“NSW has 30 per cent more poker machines in NSW than in Queensland and Victoria combined, and profits from these gaming machines in clubs and pubs in NSW hit a record $3.8 billion in the first half of 2022,” Unions NSW highlighted in its resolution.

Unions NSW acknowledged in its resolution that “a complete ban on poker machines is unrealistic”.

“However, there is a need to phase down the number of poker machines in our state,” the resolution stated.

The resolution insists that where establishments with poker machines close or seek to relocate, those licences should be cancelled, and the poker machines be removed from circulation. It also wants a moratorium on granting new poker machines licences in clubs to be introduced.

The resolution also called for the $1 billion tax subsidy for poker machines installed in registered clubs to be redirected and used to compensate for the removal of licences.

“Compensation should be minimal given the historical profits made from those machines,” the resolution said.

A spokesperson for Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris said the NSW government is committed to reducing gaming reform that reduces harm, but also recognises there is no one solution.

“The NSW government is happy to work with Unions NSW and indeed anyone else committed to gambling reform that reduces harm in the community,” the spokesperson said.

“The Minister for Gaming and Racing is reaching out to Unions NSW to discuss their concerns in the coming weeks.”

According to the spokesperson, the state government has already reduced poker machine numbers by 3,000 through an amendment to the Gaming Machines Regulation.

“We have also committed to changing the gaming machine entitlement forfeiture scheme so that more are forfeited, reducing the number of poker machines allowed in NSW,” added the spokesperson.

“The NSW government has established an independent panel with representatives from industry, harm minimisation organisations, academics and cyber security to oversee a cashless gaming trial and develop a further roadmap for reform.”

This piece was first published by our sister publication, Club Management.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *