The Greens in NSW are effectively declaring war on pokies across the state. Over the weekend, multiple sources are reporting on plans from the Greens that seek to phase pokies out of pubs and clubs over the next decade.
The plan will enact many other changes, including cashless gambling cards and increasing pokies taxes for gaming companies. However, the program relies heavily on the support of whichever party wins the upcoming elections.
Greens Looking to “Pull the Pin on Pokies”
Over the weekend, news broke regarding a plan from the NSW Greens to eliminate pokies throughout the state. The strategy referred to as “Pull the Pin on Pokies” seeks to remove poker machines from clubs and pubs throughout the state over the next decade.
The plan has multiple phases. First, the Greens plan to impose a “Super Tax” on pokies. The rate will be 60% and increase by 5% yearly. This is effectively a tripling of taxes. Currently, pubs and clubs pay a tax of around $1.2 billion yearly on pokies.
The excessive tax would bring in around $3.4 billion in revenue over five years, and the money will fund community-based services and gambling harm reduction programs. Under the plan, pokies would be phased out of pubs over the next five years and removed from clubs in the next decade.
Furthermore, the plan calls for a cashless gambling card across the state for pokies currently operating. Also, the plan calls for a ban on political organisations that benefit from gambling.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann spoke on the plan, stating, “Our plan would repair the harm pokies have wrought on our communities and reduce the social costs of gambling by at least $87 billion over a decade.
We call on both major parties to commit to these urgently needed reforms ahead of the March election.”
ClubsNSW Quick to Speak Out
ClubsNSW was quick to speak out against the new proposal from the Greens. The organisation pointed out that clubs and pubs are already paying $1.2 billion annually in taxes. They also highlighted the number of people visiting clubs or playing pokies each year outweighs those voting for the Greens.
According to a spokesman from ClubsNSW, “While some 92 per cent of people in NSW visit a club at least once per year, only eight per cent of voters put the Greens first. It seems the public is happy with clubs the way they are and understand a vote for the Greens is a vote for economic ruin.”
Speaking of economic ruin, the amount of revenue lost by clubs and pubs would be substantial. Under the Greens’ plan, smaller venues would receive help in replacing some of the lost revenue. It is unlikely that a complete replacement could be made easily.
Greens Need Support of Other Parties
The Greens need help from other parties to get their plan enacted. While the Greens believe the plan will save the state over $90 billion in gambling harm costs over a decade, they do not have enough numbers to bring the policy to life.
As such, the Greens will seek to partner with those that come into power after the March elections. The plan will likely fall by the wayside if they cannot garner enough support.
Looking at the plan objectively, it seems that some parts of the plan have merit. For example, cashless gambling cards and a ban on political donations seem reasonable. However, the Super Tax and complete phaseout of pokies are likely unattainable goals. We will better understand whether this plan has legs once the March elections conclude.