By limiting Pokies to casinos and banning their placement in pubs, hotels, and clubs, Western Australia is missing out on a huge chunk of potential tax revenue.
There is one Poker machine to every 114 Australians. It’s clear that Australians have a particular soft spot for Pokies as a gambling option. More than any other choice, it’s the most popular, and this can be easily attributed to their accessibility.
In most of the country, Pokies are located in pubs, clubs, and hotels, which is where the most money is spent on them. Pubs, clubs, and hotels won’t have Blackjack or Poker, so without the competition of other gambling options, if someone is in the mood to place a few bets, it is often their only option unless they make the trip out to a land-based casino or play games online.
Throughout 2013 and 2014, Pokies in pubs, hotels, and clubs took Australians for $11 billion, while Pokies in casinos took $1.5 billion. Combined, that’s about $550 per Australian resident, which is a pretty staggering number.
Intuitively, the more accessible Pokies are, the more likely people will be to play them. In fact, the highest concentration of losses has been in Western Sydney’s Fairfield neighbourhood, where the highest concentration of Pokies is located. In Fairfield in 2011, the average adult lost $2,340 playing Pokies. Fairfield is notoriously impoverished, so it is easy to see how the massive accessibility of Pokies can be taken as an indication of their potentially problematic consequences on society.
Australians are not taxed for gambling winnings, but businesses are taxed on earnings, including earnings seen on Pokies, whether they are casinos, pubs, clubs, or hotels.
In Western Australia, Pokies are banned from being located in any establishment except for casinos. As a result, they are missing out on an estimated $400 million in tax revenue. In many areas of the country, taxes garnered from Pokies make up 5% of all tax revenue or more, which is a huge chunk. Billions of dollars are being garnered in other parts of the country, while around $320 million is earned from gambling in Western Australia.
It has been stated that other gambling options could be allowed in pubs, like Keno and sports and race betting. This is because those options are considered less impactful than Pokies, which are a dominating force and more often not played casually like Keno and sports betting are.
Western Australia is missing out on a large amount of potential tax revenue, but it has also been argued that, societally speaking, Pokies not being so readily available and accessible is a good thing. In comparison to the rest of the country’s states, Western Australia has a third of the number of problem gamblers. That means that for every three problem gamblers in one state, Western Australia has two less. This is a significant chunk, there is no denying that.
Opposition to the policy that Pokies should be limited to casinos is the idea of a person’s right to play Pokies. It’s not like anyone is forced to play them, the compulsion is an internal one, so not allowing them in pubs, clubs, and hotels can be seen as a violation of rights. This is especially apparent when you consider that you can play Pokies in those locations anywhere else in the country.
To anyone that lives in Western Australia who may be reading this, or anyone who is located in Australia for that matter, the accessibility of online Pokies — which often have a higher return to play (RTP) than physical Poker machine options — means you don’t have to travel anywhere to enjoy the excitement of Slots. You’ll have more options too, from three- and five-reel to 3D options with immersive bonus games and huge Progressive Jackpots, most of which are bigger than anywhere outside of a casino.
There doesn’t seem to be a big push toward Pokies being in pubs, clubs, and hotels in Western Australia, but Keno and racing bets could happen. It’s worth it to reiterate the accessibility of online casinos and their Pokies, and on top of keeping you up to date on the latest gambling talks in Australia, we send our visitors over to the very best of the best online casinos available to AU bettors.
Good luck, have fun, and play responsibly!
Written for OnlineCasino-Australia.com by Martin Jones - Published on 07-07-2016