Critics Claim NSW’s Pokies Industry Has Revived by Exploiting Vulnerable Individuals
The local pokies industry in the Australian state of New South Wales has rebounded since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to financial figures published by regulatory body Liquor and Gaming NSW. Annual pokies profits in 2022 hit AUD 8.1 billion, exceeding 2019 results by 22%, while club profits also surpassed pre-pandemic levels, increasing by 16% in 2022. An interactive map created by ABC News using official data from Liquor and Gaming NSW showed that Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Cumberland accounted for 20% of the NSW clubs and hotels profits in H2 2022. The results caused the NSW government to increase its 2022-23 tax revenue guidance by AUD 423 million to AUD 2.1 billion. However, Wesley Mission CEO Stuart Cameron believes that pokies are part of a predatory industry that takes advantage of vulnerable people who have been devastated by the pandemic. He fears that operators will continue to perfect their products, making them even more addictive, and slammed extra marketing tactics such as member-only competitions, free drinks and free food, which encourage customers to stay. Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich believes that the recent results prove that NSW should continue to push for the introduction of cashless gaming, which many believe would lower problem gambling rates and prevent fraud.