Report reveals pokies expenditure on the rise in regional NSW

A report released by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) has revealed just how much money is being pumped into the pokies within the local government areas of Orana in inland New South Wales each year.

The figures were part of NSW’s ILGA annual report into gaming statistics, which revealed punters are feeding alarming amounts of money into electronic gaming machines every single day. Based on the 2015-2016 report, we’ve provided a breakdown of some of the hardest hit areas of the Orana region:

  • Wellington – With an annual turnover of $42,615,21, Wellington punters played $116,754 into the regions pokie machines daily. With 9,073 residents, that works out to $12.87 per individual per day.
  • Narromine – With an annual turnover of $28,733,895, Narromine locals played $78,723 into the regions pokie machines daily. With 6,822 residents, that works out to $11.54 per individual per day.
  • Bogan Shire – With an annual turnover of $12,594,690, Bogan Shire punters played $34,606 into the regions pokies machines daily. With 3,059 residents, that works out to $11.28 per individual per day.

It is whole lot of cash for areas with relatively modest populations. The figures only got worse in bigger regional centres, like Dubbo where $339.3 million was pumped into the pokies each year, Orange where punters fed $292.4 million into the machines and Lithgow, where pokies expenditure reached $128.6 million.

Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson said, “It is a major problem, gambling addiction, because when it strikes it invariably affects not only the gambler but the family around that person… The debts can be significant, they have the ability to affect the way people live.”

He said the rise of online gambling was becoming of much higher concern, with more instances of individuals reporting problems with online sports betting

It was a similar story across the New England region, where Tamworth residents reportedly gambled away $321 million, or $879,000 per day. In Tamworth, the number of pokies available has decreased, while gambling turnover is on the rise.

Centacare psychologist Tim Rawson said the problem with pokies is there are too many myths and misinformation around how the machines work. He believes education could be the key to adapting more responsible gambling practices, with punters needing to learn there is no such thing as a “due machine.”

Mr Rawson said in the Tamworth region, problem gamblers were typically males between 20 and 45 years of age.

Topping the state with the unwanted title of spending the most on the pokies was the Western Sydney Fairfield region, where punters pumped a shocking $8.27 billion into pokie machines within the council boundaries during 2015-2016.