As the Tasmanian government seeks to limit spending on the pokies, the data shows how much gambling takes from society, and how little it delivers in revenue
With the Rockliff Government in Tasmania planning to place spending limits on poker machines by 2024, attention has turned again to gambling in Australia. A look at how much Australians lose gambling each year, and how much state and territory governments make in gambling revenue shows poker machines are a terrible way to raise revenue.
A common argument from the clubs industry is that poker machines and gambling are a vital source of revenue that provides for public and social services. But the data shows that gambling takes far more than it gives.
It’s no surprise that Western Australia has the lowest gambling expenditure. Western Australia prohibits poker machines outside of the state’s one casino. By international standards, WA is normal and the other states and territories are the exception. Only 12 of 238 countries allow poker machines in pubs and clubs.
Despite having the lowest losses, WA has similar per capita revenue from gambling as Tasmania, and more revenue than the ACT. The state’s lucrative lottery, called Lotterywest, accounts for one-third of gambling expenditure but three-quarters of state gambling revenue.
NSW, despite being the state with the largest number of poker machines and the highest per-capita level of gambling within Australia, receives less revenue relative to actual gambling expenditure than all states and territories except the ACT.
Poker machines and gambling are a terrible way to raise revenue. They target lower income earners and leave society worse off overall.