Money Pokie profits to reach $7 billion each year by 2021

08:10  13 july  2018
08:10  13 july  2018 Source:   smh.com.au

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Poker machine profits in NSW will grow by 12 per cent over the next four years.© Fairfax Media Poker machine profits in NSW will grow by 12 per cent over the next four years.

Poker machine profits in NSW will grow by 12 per cent over the next four years to reach $7 billion per year by 2021, according to forecasts contained in Treasury background papers released on Thursday.

These are the first profit forecasts to become available since the state government introduced a suite of reforms to poker machine regulations in March that the government said were designed in part to minimise gambling harm.

Treasury forecasts that hotel profits from pokie machines will grow by 16 per cent to reach $2.58 billion while clubs’ pokies profits will increase by 10 per cent.

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The Greens spokesman on gambling harm, Justin Field, said the profit forecasts, “show a total failure of government policy to address gambling harm within our community.

“NSW already has the highest density of poker machines in the world and the highest gambling losses per person outside of dedicated gambling destinations like Macau.”

Mr Field said the government had a conflict of interest in regulating poker machines because of the memorandum of understanding it has signed with ClubsNSW which commits the government to a range of policies beneficial to the organisation.

The treasury forecasts were released on the same day as Western Sydney super clubs Mounties and Rooty Hill RSL were fined $1100 each by the NSW gaming authority, after they refused to disclose the club's pokie revenue to journalists.

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Under NSW law, registered clubs must keep a record of detailed financial data and disclosures, including pokie profits, executive pay, overseas trips, consultancy fees and potential conflicts of interest.

Public broadcaster SBS News appealed to Liquor and Gaming NSW after one of its journalists was granted a provisional membership by both clubs, only to have it cancelled after she requested access to the clubs' financial disclosures.

According to SBS News, the financial disclosures revealed Mounties - the richest club in NSW in terms of its pokie profits -made almost $113 million in pre-tax pokie profit, or player losses, in the year to August 2016 from its 599 poker machines.

Earlier this year, the Herald was also barred from joining Mounties and Rooty Hill RSL under near-identical circumstances.

Following an investigation, the regulator found the SBS journalist was "legally entitled to [the information] at the time of the written request, even though her applications for full membership of both clubs were subsequently rejected."

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A spokesman for the gaming regulator said financial penalties were imposed to "send a message to industry" that transparency and accountability to club members are "fundamental to good governance and public confidence in administration and oversight of clubs."

The financial disclosures revealed Mounties - the richest club in NSW in terms of its pokie profits -made almost $113 million in pre-tax pokie profit, or player losses, in the year to August 2016 from its 599 poker machines.

The club’s top executive was paid a total remuneration package worth up to $710,000 in the financial year ending June that year.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Racing, Paul Toole, said Mr Field's claims were incorrect.

"Gaming machine revenue projections in the Budget papers are based on expected growth in household spending,'' he said. ''They are not linked to the NSW Government’s gaming reforms, which introduced local community caps for the first time.

''The reforms introduced more consultation, transparency and protection for communities most at risk.''

The Australian Hotels Association and ClubsNSW have been approached for comment.

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