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NSW is home to just under half of Australia’s 200,000 poker machines. They are profitable, accessible and deeply harmful. Dotted in pubs and clubs across the state – they are dangerous and designed to addict. In no other place on earth is gambling so ubiquitous. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Together, we can act to prevent and reduce gambling harm.
In the lead-up to the March 2023 NSW Election, Wesley Mission and a broad-based coalition of concerned supporters will campaign on five key reform measures, based on our analysis of the current political landscape.
NSW has been rocked by the uncovering of one of its dirtiest secrets – poker machines across the state are used by organised criminals to launder money. This is the moment when gambling reformers and law enforcement can work together to use one initiative to address two major problems – stopping money laundering and preventing gambling harm.
The evidence is clear, gambling after midnight is a significant risk factor for harm. Powering down pokies between midnight and 10am will prevent harm when people are at their most vulnerable.
The system of self-exclusion is fundamentally broken in NSW and is ineffective to support and empower people who are trying to take control of their gambling. The solution is to adopt a single, state-wide system overseen by an independent statutory body.
Councils are the level of government closest to people’s daily lives. They are the principal planning authority, deciding on the mix and nature of businesses that best suit their community. They must be given the right to comment on and appeal poker machine applications within their community.
Transparency and accountability are central to a strong democracy. NSW poker machine data should be transparently published by venue at least every six months.
Free, confidential support for people experiencing gambling harm is available 24/7 by calling the GambleAware Helpline 1800 858 858 or visit Gambling Help Online.
In crisis? Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or crisis chat online.
Authorised by Rev Stu Cameron, Wesley Mission, 220 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.