South Australian punters spent $5 bln on poker machines

South Australian punters have lost nearly $5 billion in poker machines since hotels and clubs were granted the right to install them. This figure means that gamblers spent more than $9 million a week from a total turnover through the machines of $40.5 billion.

According to Pokermag.com, the statistics unveils that the cumulative tax take for the government has been $1.79 billion with the venue share nearly $3 billion. Since the introduction of the pro-gambling initiative, the number of operating machines has doubled from 7372 in 307 venues in 1994-95 to 14,799 machines operating in 593 venues across the state. In September, MPs are going to discuss the issue in order to reduce the number of machines by 3000.

However, many hotel owners argue that the limitation of gambling machines will cut their income, cost jobs, negatively affect community and charity donations. So far, many hotels became thriving business because of pokies.

About $4.5 million was spent on the hotel, which has 39 machines and now employs 60 people. “If we didn’t have the machines we couldn’t afford to spend that sort of money. Gaming has been a godsend. Before that we were battling to make ends meet,” said hotel owner Greg Fahey.

Australian Hotels Association state general manager John Lewis said gaming had created 4400 jobs, provided $90 million for community organisations and helped country hotels survive. But Churches Gambling Taskforce chairman Mark Henley said the negatives regarding economic and social aspects had been substantial.

“We put a cap on poker machine numbers in December 2000, but 3 1/2 years later we are still seeing growth rates in losses,” commented Mark Henley. No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon said the machines were “electronic locusts because they strip away people’s life savings, their homes, their dignity and, most tragically, sometimes their lives”.