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Gambling, General News

Public support surges to power down pokies after midnight

Wesley Mission 2 mins read

 

Media release                                                                            9 July 2024

Public support surges to power down pokies after midnight, as trust in the Govt to stand up to the gambling industry drops

An overwhelming 83% of survey respondents want pokies powered down between midnight and 10amand 72% say they don’t trust the NSW government to stand up to the gambling industry. More than half (60%) of the respondents to Wesley Mission’s latest Community Attitudes on Gambling Reform Survey also question the government’s commitment to addressing gambling harm.

Community support for switching off poker machines between midnight and 10am has remained steadfast with support at 82% in October 2023 and 83% in May 2024.

Wesley Mission CEO and leading gambling reform advocate, Rev Stu Cameron, says the unwavering support reflects growing public concern about the impacts of late-night gambling and the need for more stringent operational restrictions on poker machines.

“The community couldn’t be clearer and for the government, it couldn’t be simpler to deliver on this reform.  We believe powering down pokies from midnight to 10am would have an immediate and profound impact in significantly reducing gambling harm.

“We know of a number of hotels for example, which are operating from 6am to 3am Fridays and Saturdays and where the gaming room is open 168 hours per week.  It is staggering when you consider the average person’s working week is 37.5 hours.”

As far back as 2010, the Productivity Commission recommended the earlier closure of suburban poker machine venues in recognition of the increased risk of harm during late-night gambling. Successive reports, including the NSW Government’s own research[i], demonstrate that people already significantly harmed are over-represented in pubs and clubs after midnight.

“There is no reason for pubs and clubs to continue operating poker machines in the early hours of the morning when we know people are at their most vulnerable.  It is abundantly clear that a simple measure can prevent and minimise harm from late-night gambling.  It is also clear the public strongly support this measure,” says Cameron.

This is third time Wesley Mission has conducted the survey and the third time the results have highlighted a growing public appetite for change and for real and timely reform.

“While the government is to be commended for enforcing the poker machine signage ban last year, the community remain clearly frustrated with the pace of reform.  They want to see more prompt action to reduce gambling harm and address this serious public health issue.”

Cameron adds, “The government have been presented with an opportunity to rebuild community trust and power down New South Wales’ 87,000 poker machines from midnight to 10am”. 

ENDS

Wesley Mission provides practical care and support for more than 130,000 people annually in NSW and across Australia, including help for people experiencing homelessness, local community action groups preventing suicide, and gambling and financial counselling among more than 120 programs. www.wesleymission.org.au

Rev Stu Cameron and Jay, who has lived experience of gambling harm, are available for interview.

Media contacts: Anne Holt on 0418 628 342 or anne.holt@wesleymission.org.au



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