Budget forecasts pokie loss blowout thanks to misery tax

Wesley Mission

Despite historic and welcome investment in public housing and in addressing domestic and family violence, the budget handed down by the NSW Government this week forecasts a 27% increase in taxes from poker machines in pubs and clubs over the next four years, indicating gambling losses from pokies will increase by the same amount over the same period.

NSW budget papers reveal tax revenue from club and pub gaming machines for the 23/24 financial year is expected to be a staggering $2.289 billion. For the 27/28 FY, pokie tax revenue is projected to be $2.914 billion.

While there’s much to celebrate in the NSW budget, including significant investment in public housing Wesley Mission CEO and leading gambling reform advocate, Stu Cameron, says the increase in projected revenue from gambling is deeply concerning given such increases directly correlate with increased gambling harm and all its devastating impact. These forecasts do not take into account the known links between gambling and housing stress and homelessness. Working across government to reduce gambling harm would also reduce the waiting lists for public housing.

“These projections undermine the government’s public commitment to reduce harm caused by a rampant pokies industry in this state. If we’re serious about reducing gambling harm in NSW, there must be a significant reduction in pokie machines, revenue and taxes.”

The budget papers released this week attributed the projected increase directly to more money being lost by the people of NSW to poker machines: “Over the four years to 2027-28, forecast gambling tax revenue has been revised up by $359.2 million, reflecting increased gaming machine activity[1].”

Rev Cameron says this is an issue that has crossed political lines for decades.

“The truth is, the most destructive gambling addiction in NSW is born by successive state governments, increasingly reliant over more than 60 years on the taxation revenue generated by an industry that causes rampant and destructive misery across every postcode in our state.

“Gaming machine tax as a percentage of gambling taxes overall will rise from 65% in 23/24, to 69% in 27/28. Gambling losses are the only proxy we have to measure the level of gambling harm in NSW, and the willingness successive governments to rely on this misery tax to balance the books is deeply disappointing.”.

/Public Release.