Fairfield – the heart of NSW’s gambling problem

NSW has the worst gambling problem in Australia… and at its heart is the local government area of Fairfield.

Figures released recently by the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) show that for the 2013/14 financial year, NSW gamblers lost more than $5.4 billion on poker machines in clubs and pubs. That’s a record high, and accounts for roughly half of all money lost on venue-based poker machines in Australia.

The bulk of those losses are concentrated in only a few areas. Fairfield cops the worst of it; in 2013/14, gamblers in the local government area (LGA) of Fairfield lost approximately $550 million on poker machines. Over half a billion dollars in a year, lost from one of Sydney’s most disadvantaged regions.

In fact, Fairfield lost more money on poker machines in 2013/14 than Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory combined.

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This isn’t the first time Fairfield has been thrust into the spotlight as a target for the poker machine industry, and clubs in particular. In 2011 it was The Machines That Are Draining A City. In 2014 it was Punters In West Pile Money In Pokies. And earlier this year it was Greens Want To Limit Poker Machines In Poor Suburbs. But for all the media attention, very little is being done to change the situation.

Following Fairfield is Sydney, with losses of $271 million… less than half that of Fairfield. Then comes Canterbury ($270 million), Bankstown ($268 million) and Blacktown ($209 million).

These five LGAs between them are responsible for over $1.5 billion in poker machine losses. That’s almost 30% of NSW’s total losses.

With figures like these, it’s easy to see why Clubs NSW makes a habit of donating to political parties around the country and sabotaging attempts to change the rules. This is a game they don’t intend to lose.

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