The eye-watering amount locals lost on the pokies last year

Penrith locals lost plenty of money on poker machines last year.
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Penrith residents lost less on poker machines in 2023 than they did the previous year, but new figures prove locals are still punting in huge numbers.

New data analysis from Wesley Mission highlights that NSW residents lost $8.1 billion to poker machines in 2023, slightly up on 2022 figures.

The Penrith Local Government Area (LGA) saw a net loss of $223,196,777 in 2023, which was a reduction of $8,841,405 compared with the net loss of $232,038,182 in 2022.

It puts Penrith in the top 10 Local Government Areas for poker machine losses last year.

General Manager of Wesley Mission, Jim Wackett, attributed this fall in figures to electronic gaming machines (EGMs) being primarily housed in clubs in the Penrith LGA.

There are 1,991 pokies located in clubs in the Penrith LGA and 494 located in pubs.

“We’ve seen a growing increase in the amount of money that is lost in pubs and if you see those drops in Penrith that is probably due to the fact that the majority of EGMs in that LGA are located in clubs as opposed to pubs,” Wackett said.

“Pubs have year on year increased the amount of money that [is] lost through their machines, but they’ve also increased as a percentage on the total losses in NSW as well.

“So, while pubs in NSW only have 25 per cent of all poker machines, they now account for over 44 per cent of the losses and that’s going up and up every year.”

Wackett said that NSW has seen an increase in younger demographics frequently playing poker machines.

“This is one of the really disturbing things… because poker machines have been so common and so ubiquitous in NSW for so many years now it is almost seen as a rite of passage for some people when they turn 18,” Wackett said.

“You know, you go to the pub, [and] you buy a drink, [and] you go play the pokies.

“That’s the first step on a slippery slope, these machines are designed to addict.”

Wesley Mission is strongly advocating for gambling reforms to reduce the amount of money lost across NSW.

“We’ve been pushing now, for a couple of years, a range of reforms,” Wackett said.

“As Wesley Mission as an organisation we deal every day with people enduring the impacts of gambling harm, whether that’s through our family and community services, through Lifeline, through our financial counselling services [or] through our homelessness services.”

Wesley Mission is advocating for the reforms to include mandatory cashless gaming, a state-wide self-exclusion register, and a reduction in the number of hours EGMs are available for use.

For gambling help, call 1800 858 858 for 24/7 free and anonymous support.

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