Australian Government Addicted To Pokies Tax Revenues?

For over 50 years, slot machines known as “pokies” have been relieving Australians of their cash but in recent years wagering on them has become a serious issue leading to whole list of social problems including gambling addiction, violence, crime, bankruptcy, suicide, and depression.
Last year alone, Australians spent US$17 billion on all types of gambling $10.4 billion of which went on pokies, or around $1,300 per adult each year. However, it would appear that its not only a 100,000 Australians who are addicted to the machines, but also the Australian government who have become increasingly more reliant on the 40% to 60% in tax revenues ($5bn) collected each year. As lawyer and CEO of Christian relief organisation ‘World Vision in Australia,’ explains:
“The state’s revenues were shrinking and they were relying more and more on the federal government. Around 12% of Victorian government income comes from pokies. The same in New South Wales.”
Consequently, anti-pokies MP Andrew Wilkie found his reform proposals scuppered under prime minister Julia Gillard (pictured right) in the face of resistance by the clubs industry, although Gillard claims the policy faltered because of a lack of crossbench support. The reforms initially recommended $1 bet limits per spin and mandatory precommitments to set loss limits in advance. 
Nearly all Australia’s Pubs Clubs and Casinos have pokies offering AU$10,000 top prizes, with the potential for punters to lose up to $1,200 every hour. By contrast, slot machines in the UK have a £50 maximum payout with potential hourly losses set at around Aus$30 to $40.
However, disregarding the social costs, Clubs Australia spokesman Jeremy Bath commented: “We are a nation of gamblers – the First Fleet were gambling on the way here from England. Clubs offer quality, affordable entertainment to the family. Over 10 million people choose to be a member – people are voting with their feet.”

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