As far as controversial topics go, electronic gaming machines (EGM), also known as pokies in Australia, take top billing. Around the world, in many jurisdictions, their place in society is a constant source of debate. However, nowhere is it as prevalent as it is in Australia.
Pokies are a huge source of entertainment and revenue and have been for years. However, Australia’s Greens Party division in New South Wales (NSW) believes the country can do without an economic segment that generates over AU$3.1 billion (US$2.21 billion) a year. The left-wing political party plans to phase them out of bars over five years.
NSW Greens has spent several years trying to get rid of pokies in the Australian state. It argues that NSW “loses more money per person to gambling” than any other location in the world because of the number of EGMs.
No More Pokies
As a result, the party’s eight-step plan to remove pokies from the state is getting new life. It formulated a transition package it says is worth AU$7 billion (US$5 billion) to phase out pokies in bars over five years.
It would also lead to eradicating pokies in other venues within 10 years. The package would provide some financial support to those businesses to offset some revenue losses.
In addition, the party wants a complete ban on gambling advertising on public transport and at sporting events. According to a study by Gambling Research Australia, it voices its concerns over an increase in problem gambling that doubled from 2010 to 2019.
However, the problem gambling group still only made up around 1.23% of the population.
Support from an American Ally
NSW Greens found an ally for its cause halfway around the globe. An American journalist with the Washington Post recently picked up a cushy assignment down under. Leaving the US bubble, Michael Miller was “shocked” at the number of pokies he found in Australia.
He was so surprised that he decided to write a piece for the Post about his experience. In it, he used examples of gambling addiction that, according to him, could only occur because of the pokies.
Miller’s article, which points out that “Australia is home to less than half a percent of the world’s population, but has 20 percent of its pokies,” is likely going to give NSW Greens’ initiative new legs.
It may not get far, though. Attempts to ban EGMs have been around for over six years and never gotten far.
This article first appeared at: https://www.casino.org/news/australias-greens-party-pokies-in-pubs-will-be-phased-out-over-five-years/