Residents of Sydney Area Gamble A$8 Billion on Poker Machines

Sydney’s Fairfield Council has requested a freeze on slot machines, or poker machines as they are known in Australia, after news emerged that the amount of A$8 billion was spent on these in the 2015/16 financial year by residents of the south-west Sydney local government area.

Local media reported that Fairfield officials are also calling for a cap on the number of devices available in the area as well as in other communities with similarly disturbing turnover numbers.

According to the latest census, there were 207,000 people populating the City of Fairfield. It also turned out that there were 20 clubs and 18 pubs in the area during the reviewed fiscal year, with those being home to a total of 3,836 poker machines. Losses from those amounted to around A$800 million, which makes an average of $4,000 per resident.

Fairfield has been classified as a band three area by Liquor & Gaming New South Wales, or an area where the poker machine density has affected the population at a dangerously high level.

Under Liquor & Gaming NSW’s regulations, venues in such areas cannot increase the number of gambling devices featured without applying with the regulator first. The band classification has been created with the purpose of limiting the addition of more poker machines in areas where these have provenly had negative impact on the population.

Paul Newson, Deputy Secretary of Liquor & Gaming NSW, said in a Tuesday statement on the matter that band three venues undergo “the most stringent assessment processes” and that they are required to undertake a much more serious level of consultation with the local community than venues in band one and two areas.

A recently published report by international media outlet The Conversation claimed that Australia was home to more poker machines than any other country, excluding major casino hubs like Macau. And New South Wales was placed on the top of the pokie losses per adult chart.

According to the Australian Gambling Statistics set of gambling data state residents lost A$978 per adult last year. In comparison, Tasmanians lost A$284 per adult during the same twelve-month period.

Internationally, Australia was charted as the country with the biggest average gambling loss per resident adult by H2 Gambling Capital. According to the consultancy firm gambling losses per resident adult per year amounted to $990 in 2016. The reported amount was 40% higher than runner-up Singapore and twice as large as most Western countries. H2 Gambling Capital, too, pointed out that poker machines or pokies were the most popular form of gambling among Australian players.

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