Bega Valley loses over $21m on poker machines

Justin Field.

Justin Field.

In one year punters lost over $21million on poker machines at the Bega Valley’s clubs, according to the state government. 

Greens MLC for NSW Justin Field, who released the information, said as this amount was claimed as net profit it was lost from the community. 

“NSW has the second highest number of poker machines for a state in the world. This is real money being lost by people,” he said. 

“We’ve seen communities drastically impacted by gambling, but no-one in politics is talking about it.” 

The data, which covers the year to August 2016, also reveals a turnover of $230million being put through Bega Valley machines. 

Mr Field purchased the information from Liquor and Gaming NSW as part of a campaign to force the government to be more transparent with losses on poker machines. 

“What we have seen in other states whenever they release this information to the public, is that the community is much more likely to take action to change clubs and pubs,” he said. 

While some jaws may drop at the amount of money being passed through poker machines in the Bega Valley’s clubs, it is far less compared to other areas such Fairfield where there was a net profit of over $357million.

“But regional areas have their own economic problems and this is a loss many maybe can’t afford,” Mr Field said. 

Mr Field said most countries only allow poker machines in casinos, not clubs or pubs. 

“But we inject this known addictive device into our communities,” he said. 

Mr Field, who is based on the South Coast, has introduced legislation into state Parliament which he hopes will be debated upon this year. The bill would require the government to release poker machine data for each venue on a monthly basis. 

In a report last year, Fairfax Media revealed in 2014/2015 out of all the gaming machines in the Bega Valley the turnover was more than $256million, while the losses to the community equated to roughly $25million.