NSW AND VICTORIA GAMING RESULTS BRING GROWTH AND CRITICS

In Gaming - News by Clyde Mooney

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The latest figures released by NSW and Victorian authorities show continued rise in the gaming sector, with the south still recording higher average earnings.

This week the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) released news of its gaming machine data for FY19, showing a sluggish 0.13 per cent increase in net revenues over the previous year, to $2,699m.

The VCGLR data represents both pubs and clubs, holding a total of 26,488 EGMs across the state, equating to an annual average of $102k per machine.

By comparison, NSW has been proactively removing gaming machines from the hospitality sector, yet revenue in hotels has increased significantly in the past year.

Liquor & Gaming record 22,651 EGMs in pubs across the state, generating $1,326m in net revenue, equating to an annual average of $58,548 per machine.

The FY19 revenue total in NSW is a 13.5 per cent increase over FY18.

It amounts to $456m in tax for the NSW state government – an increase of 16.7 per cent on the previous year. 

New information out of the NSW Treasury projects EGM revenue in pubs will increase 50 per cent over the next decade, and continue to outpace that of clubs.

On the weekend The Age published a damning editorial accusing the NSW Government and Opposition of “turning a blind eye to the impacts of gambling on communities”, under accusation this was because tax revenue was “set to skyrocket”. 

The article quoted unverified claims by independent MP Justin Field, including accusations that the growth in NSW pub revenue “coincides with a boost in political donations from the Australian Hotels Association”, which it reports last year donated over $416k to NSW and Federal Labor and Coalition parties.

This claim casually bypasses the age-old (yet still poignant) debate as to whether government should be responsible for people potentially over-indulging in a legal activity, going on to accuse both levels of government of inherent corruption by way of influence from industry.

Also quoted (without citation) is analysis by The Australia Institute stating Australia has 76 per cent of the world’s club and hotel poker machines. This is predicated on “most of the rest of the world” having the machines in dedicated venues, such as casinos.

Beyond the Melbourne-based publication throwing stones at NSW from behind its own looking glass, the misleading statement is problematic to assess, as it mixes multiple measures.

It is possible claims around Australia’s percentage of “poker machines” are inflated simply by fact that Australia and New Zealand are the only countries that call electronic gaming machines by that name.

But also, while many other countries do not have EGMs in hotels and clubs, they may be in less prohibitive environments.

“All gaming machines in Australia are in age-restricted premises, which is not the case in many countries outside Australia,” GTA CEO Chris Muir responded to enquiry for clarification on the statement.

“In the USA and Europe, gaming machines can be found in airports and convenience stores.”

The Association has previously provided information on global numbers of ‘gaming’ machines, and reports Australia holding 2.5 per cent of the world’s total. This number has been “relatively consistent for many years”.