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Poker machines, the money, and Labor

Skidbladnir 26 August 2009 55

[First Filed August 24, 2009]

Poker machines are a strange game. In the long term, the only way to win is to not play. And yet, Canberra still gambled $56 every second last financial year, just on the pokies.

Canberrans love sport, and Canberrans their Clubs, and Clubs help make the ACT better by supporting the local sports that Canberrans love. I know this because ClubsACT tells me.

So if we all just chip in and churn part of our pay packet through the pokies every week, Clubs can do their part and support the Community through sport.

If the faces of people you see hanging around Clubs on their ads are to be believed, this is a bargain struck in heaven, and it is perfect in every way.

Personally, I’m so cynical that I find it hard to see the smiling happy people on the advertising as anything other than a marketing ploy put out by an industry body, and like most marketing messages, it doesn’t resemble the reality.

If you set foot in a Club for most of the time the machines are running, chances are about half of the people playing pokies will look like your grandmother, and they will be churning through $20 notes and making maximum bets like there was no tomorrow.

If the people actually playing the pokies when I walked into a Club were deliriously happy and all looked like attractive blondes, I probably wouldn’t care what they did, so long as I could join in.

Here in the ACT we have our Gaming Machines Act 2004 which requires Clubs to contribute 7% of Net Gaming Machine Revenue at a minimum, in order to help the Government justify to the taxpayers why we have poker machines within the ACT.

The claim is made that 7% of Net Gaming Machine Revenue (NGMR) is good for the community as a whole.

If Clubs contributing 7% of Net Revenue is a good thing, all of the Clubs voluntarily contributing a bit over 14% back into the community must be a great thing, surely?

On the other hand, when it comes to seeing beyond the happy marketing push:

  • If people really wanted to support sport with their money, shouldn’t it be in their pocket or bank account, so they can spend it however they like, instead of being filtered through Megaclubs to apportion as they see fit?
    1. (A Megaclub is classed throughout this article as an individual entity receiving more than $2,500,000/year from gaming activities, a Megaclub Group is one which receives more than 85% of total gaming income from Megaclub-class operations)
  • The ACT has the highest poker machine participation rate in the country.
    1. (38%. Source: Australiasian Gaming Council, Australian Gaming Database 2008, Pg60, Figure 5-1 ACT Gambling Participation (2005-06), copies available here)

  • The ACT has the second-highest per-capita poker machine turnover in the country.
      ($7640 per capita, only NSW is higher. Source: Australiasian Gaming Council, Australian Gaming Database 2008, Pg20, Table 3-1 Summary: Aggregate and per capita gambling expenditure in Australia by state/territory (2005-06), copies available here. I get about $6749 per capita for FY07-08 using GGMR/10% losses/ABS stated adult population for the period)
  • The ACT has the highest concentrations of poker machines per capita of any State or Territory.
    1. (20.4 machines per thousand adults versus a national average of 12.6. Source: Australiasian Gaming Council, Australian Gaming Database 2008, Pg9, Figure 2-1 Gaming machines per 1,000 adults in Australia by state/territory, copies available here. Personally I get 19.66 machines per thousand using ABS stats for the period, but this is still higher than NSW at 19.0 per thousand)
  • Less than a third of the Clubs in Canberra received more than 75% of all gaming revenue.
    1. (Source: ACT Gaming and Racing Commission, Community Contributions made by Gaming Machine Licensees 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, Attachment C: Required and Actual Community Contributions – Licensed Clubs , Pg 20 &21)
  • The Labor Club Group and the Tradesmen’s Union Club Group made up almost 25% of our gaming market by revenue.
    1. (Source: ACT ACT Gaming and Racing Commission, Community Contributions made by Gaming Machine Licensees 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, Attachment C: Required and Actual Community Contributions – Licensed Clubs , Pg 20 &21)
  • Our governing ACT Labor Party was the largest recipient of direct donations from the poker machine sector. The ACT Labor Party received donations from the Club sector into Party coffers at a rate of about a dollar every minute.
    1. (Source: ACT Gaming and Racing Commission, Community Contributions made by Gaming Machine Licensees 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, pg26, and Elections ACT, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) 07-08 Financial Disclosures)
  • Most of the Megaclubs don’t even contribute 14% of NGMR back into the community, and those who do already own sporting facilities, so can improve their own assets and get a free ride, relative to their peers.
    1. (Source: ACT Gaming and Racing Commission, Community Contributions made by Gaming Machine Licensees 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, Attachment C: Required and Actual Community Contributions – Licensed Clubs , Pg 20 &21.
      Those Megaclubs contributing 14% NGMR or greater were: Belconnen Magpies Sports Club, Eastlake Football Club, Lanyon Vikings Sports Club, Vikings Town Centre Sports Club, Vikings Erindale Sports Club, Ainslie Football & Social Club, and Gungahlin Lakes & Golf Community Club)

    In return, ACT Labor lets the Club sector operate its machines under one of the most favourable gaming tax regimes in the country, and everybody involved claims it’s for the public good.

    Tax rates are so low that politicians can say that Canberra’s poker machine problem is nothing to worry about, since it only makes up 3.5% of the Canberra tax revenues. Stanhope can even stand up at annual Clubs conferences and sing high praise of the sector his party receives the largest donations from.

    Heck, it’s apparently so good that there is a discussion paper from ACT Treasury (early version here, without submissions) which, if the policy is adopted, may let Clubs redistribute some of their underperforming poker machines from one location and put them into more intensive (as in profitable) usage, or even buy the less competitive operators out of the market, so the Megaclubs can rake in even more revenue from more mortgage-offsetting workers and elderly suburban grandmothers who are now cashed-up widows since the estate cleared.

    Since the ACT Treasury would get a 21% share of larger revenues from fewer operators, and a sane Treasury will never say no to more money, it could be a viable option to help support whatever uncosted but taxpayer-funded program the ACT Labor Party dreams up in future, or just pay for the next Fringe Festival.

    If a policy helps derive greater tax income from a single sector, couldn’t that make the ACT more dependent on poker machines?

    Are we meant to believe that if a policy helps the single sector which contributed the largest sums to the governing ACT Labor Party, then there’s no potential for conflicts of interest?

    But since some of that funding is going on sport through Community Contributions, it must be good for the public, so we should just sit back and accept it, right?

    Wiser people than me have said it before, but here goes:
    When you have doubts about what you’re being told, follow the money and see for yourself.

    Luckily, when it comes to following the money, every Club is required by law to file a notice of Community Contributions by July each year, and the Treasurer is required to report the Community Contributions to the Legislative Assembly by October, at which point the records get made public, so everyone can have a look.
    These reports indicate both the minimum contribution required from each Club, and any discretionary contributions a Club may want to make on top of their mandatory seven percent.

    Since FY2006-07 the ACT Gaming Commission has included in the reports the Gross Gaming Revenues for each Club; and with that key piece of information you can league table an industry.

    You can see who are the major players and their market share; work out how much an average poker machine will take in a given Club, how much cash Canberrans will put into poker machines on an annual basis, and also, how intensively the machines are used.

    If you only look at aggregate data for Community Contributions, or the nice bolded figures which total up an entire sector instead of specifics, everything seems peachy.

    Clubs in the ACT contributed 14.57% of their net gaming revenues (NGMR) to community causes throughout the year, instead of the minimum seven percent. Great.

    The Big Four Club groups in Canberra contributed 38.54% of the total contribution. Nice.

    Those Big Four Club groups make up 51.72% of all poker machine income in the ACT. Not so nice.

    The Labor Club Group as a whole, fountainhead of ACT Labor Party finance, contributed only 0.77% NGMR above minimum back to the community. Three of the Labor Clubs scrape in barely above minimum, contributing back in total only $4698.50 above that required by the law.

    Ginninderra Labor Club contributed only $631.44 (0.03%) above minimum, or about an hour’s takings.
    Also, the formula used to calculate these contributions is skewed in favour of letting the large operators contribute back relatively less than the smaller operators. (More on that one down below.)

    These Contribution Reports are visible over at the ACT Gaming and Racing Commission website here, if you really want to go and have a look.

    Clubs ACT tell you on their website that under ACT law Clubs can never be owned or operated by a Corporation and so none of the profits on gaming are able to return to private hands, somehow rendering their entire enterprise a noble one.

    Conversely, if none of the return can be accrued into private hands, and Clubs are raking in millions of dollars every year, once wages and costs have been deducted, they have little choice but to continue gilding their lilies by redecorating and refurbish the buildings, or otherwise invest in their own operations.

    They can either operate at a loss, break even, or return the profits to themselves and keep increasing in size, gradually becoming Pacman-like behemoth, consuming all smaller operators who fail to keep up, in the name of “building a community asset for their members”.

      Gaming Tax is Effectively Flat, Community Contributions are Regressive

    Unfortunately, when you read the Gaming Machine Act 2004, Community Contributions are defined by a rather regressive formula.

    In practice our Gaming Taxation might as well be a flat tax formula, in that almost everyone who pays gaming tax falls into the one margin.

    54% of the ACT’s operators, and 99% of ACT Gaming Tax Revenue comes from the highest tax margin.

    The remaining operators only contribute in 1% of the gaming tax revenue each year.

    Once they fall into that magic 21% tax margin, there are no further margins to worry about falling into, which would diminish their own return through tax penalties like every other state in the country.

    (Click on the image for an indication of the relative value of Clubs in terms of tax contributions.)

    Also a result of including after-tax Gaming Revenue in the formula for Required Contributions, the larger the operator, the smaller the percentage contribution to the Community they are required to make.

    This is what “7% of NGMR” means, in theory:

    The first $180,000 annual income must return 5.32% of losses directly to the Community, since they pay no tax.

    The next $120,000 will be returned at 4.27% directly to the Community, and 15% to the ACT Government as tax.

    The next $300,000 will be returned at 4.13% directly to the Community, and 17% to the ACT Government as tax.

    Each dollar above $600,000 annual income will be returned at 3.85% directly to the community, and 21% to the ACT Government.

    As example:

    Federal Golf Club, has only $41,018 in gaming income, but pays no tax on it.

    It has a required contribution back to the community of $2,182.18, or 5.32%.

    Canberra Labor Club, has $15,051,667 in gaming revenue, but pays an average tax rate of 20.62% on each dollar it earns due to margining.

    It has a required contribution back to the community of $583,478.98, or 3.88% of GGMR.

    So in effect, the Government can put up as many golden statues as the tax income will allow regardless of Club size, but the actual percentage returned directly to the Community gets smaller and smaller as the Clubs get larger. Thanks to some extra provisions in the law, you can actually only contribute three-quarters of the required amount, so long as it gets spent either on women’s sport or programs which control problem gambling.

    Snapshot of the basic data:

    By the population numbers available from the Bureau of Statistics, with 5087 poker machines operating through the entire financial year, the ACT had 19.66 machines per thousand adults in FY 2007/08, against a national average of 12.6 according to the Australasian Gaming Council.

    While that number is gradually falling as population increases (since the number of machines in the ACT are capped at 5200), it just means we will be using the existing machines more intensively as time goes on, and so income per machine will increase also.

    Canberran poker machine players put somewhere in the range of $1.36 billion and $1.77 billion[1] into poker machines during FY 07-08.

    According to Bureau of Statistics population data for the period there were 262,742 adults in the ACT.
    This means that on average, every adult in the ACT gambled between $5191 and $6749 [1] in FY 07/08 just on the pokies.
    [1]: I can only be this accurate because I am working off Gaming Commission returns and Gross Gaming Machine Revenues of $177,311,623 in the reporting period.
    ClubsACT claim the typical Club returns 90% of turnover to players

    Bear in mind that Clubs can actually set the rate of return at whatever they like; the legislated minimum return to player (RTP) in the ACT is $0.87 for $1 turnover (ie: Club takings of 13 cents per dollar), or turnover of about $1,363,935,562. ClubsACT (the industry body) asserts that a typical RTP of its members is $0.90, so would represent $1,773,116,230 of turnover.
    Also keep in mind that ClubsACT has stated that its mission is to “present a good public image of clubs”. They also claim that the ACT Government only makes a 15% after-tax concession for operating the machines, when the law states it is a 24% after tax concession, and the Gaming Commission acts according to the law, so 24% is conceded.
    (I will be using the Clubs ACT 90% return figure, because it both portrays the industry as the size they claim, and it also just makes the sums easier )

    Operators:

    Canberra had 62 Clubs operating gaming machines for the entirety of the FY 07-08.

    The Largest Individual Megalubs:

  • Canberra Labor Club, with gaming revenue of $15,051,667;
  • Canberra Tradesmen’s Union Club with gaming revenue of $13,700,436;
  • Canberra Southern Cross Club (Woden) with gaming revenue of $13,190,205;
  • Hellenic Club of Canberra, with gaming revenue of $11,977,298;
  • Gungahlin Lakes & Golf Community Club, with gaming revenue of $9,653,234.
  • The Largest Megaclub groups:

  • Tuggeranong Vikings Clubs (Vikings Erindale, Town Centre Sports Club, Chisholm Sports Club, Vikings Lanyon, Vikings Capital Golf Club);
  • Tradesmen’s Clubs (Canberra Tradesmen’s Union Club, Woden Tradesmen’s Union Club);
  • Canberra Southern Cross Clubs (Southern Cross Club Woden, Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong, Yamba Sports Club, Southern Cross Yacht Club);
  • Labor Clubs (Canberra Labor Club, Ginninderra Labor Club, Weston Creek Labor Club, City Labor Club);
  • From here on in, I will be referring to these Clubs as The Big Four, since these 15 Clubs (less than 25% of the registered licensed Clubs in the ACT) command more than half of the ACT gaming revenue.

    Machines

    For the number of machines, Canberra had 5087 poker machines operating for the entire financial year.

    2284 (44.90%) machines in total were owned by the Big Four being:

  • 734 (14.43%) by the Tuggeranong Vikings Clubs;
  • 540 (10.62%) by the Tradesmen’s Union Clubs;
  • 522 (10.26%) by the Canberra Southern Cross Clubs;
  • 488 (9.59%) by the Labor Clubs;
  • 2803 (55.10%) of these were owned by other Clubs.

    Losses

    In Gross Gaming Machine Revenue (GGMR) terms, in the FY07-08 Clubs in Canberra received $177,311,623 from gaming losses.

    Total figures

    Of this, $91,710,562 (51.72% revenue share) was received by the Big Four Megaclub Groups, being:

  • $26,927,370 (15.19% revenue share) by the Tuggeranong Vikings Clubs with 734 machines ($517,834 lost each week);
  • $18,732,469 (10.56% revenue share) by the Tradesmen’s Union Clubs with 540 machines ($360,240 lost each week);
  • $22,329,496 (12.59% revenue share) by the Canberra Southern Cross Clubs with 522 machines ($429,413 lost each week);
  • $23,721,227 (13.38% revenue share) by the Labor Clubs with 488 machines ($456,177 lost each week);
  • $85,601,061 (48.28% revenue share) was received by other Clubs.

    Turnover per machine:

    Player losses across the whole ACT averaged $34,856/machine (or turnover of about $6703 each week on every machine in the Territory).

    For machines owned by the Big Four, across the 07-08 financial year the average earning was $40,153 per machine, or up to $7720 in turnover each week.

    To achieve this, the average machine owned by the Big Four had an average turnover of up to $401,535 [1] for the financial year.

  • The Labor Clubs’ average machine earned $48,609 (turnover of $9,347.90 each week) with 488 machines;
  • The Canberra Southern Cross Clubs’ average machine earned $42,777 (turnover of $8,226.30 each week) with 522 machines;
  • The Tuggeranong Vikings Clubs’ average machine earned $36,685 (turnover of $7,055 each week) with 734 machines;
  • The Tradesmen’s Union Clubs’ average machine earned $34,690 (turnover of $6,671.10 each week) with 488 machines.
  • For machines owned by anyone else, the average was $30,540 per machine (turnover $5872.90/week).
    The average poker machine owned by anyone else had up to $305,390 [1] churned through it.

    The best performing Clubs in the ACT for 07/08 per-machine earnings and my estimates for turnover were:

  • Canberra Labor Club: earning an average of $55,337 (turnover of $10,640/week) across 272 machines
  • Canberra Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong: earning an average of $52,060 (turnover of $10,012/week) across 155 machines;
  • Gungahlin Lakes & Golf Community Club: earning an average of $49,504 (turnover of $9,520/week) across 195 machines;
  • Canberra Southern Cross Club Woden: earning an average of $48,853 (turnover of $9,395/week) across 270 machines;
  • Hellenic Club of Canberra: earning an average of $47,154 (turnover of $9,068/week) across 254 machines.
  • If you are affected by problem gambling or would like more information about problem gambling, call Lifeline – their Gambling Care service can provide free financial counselling.

    Ph: 02 6247 0655.

    Link to Lifeline – Gambling Care’s website

    (Disclosure: The author is a member of the Canberra Southern Cross Clubs (There is free parking at Woden), the Canberra Irish Club (They serve Guinness by the pint, it tastes better and is cheaper than in Civic), and the Tuggeranong Vikings Clubs (The steaks are good on Saturdays, but the service can be slow))


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    55 Responses to Poker machines, the money, and Labor
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    Overheard 7:57 pm 25 Aug 09

    You lost me at the 187th paragraph...

    hax 7:42 pm 25 Aug 09

    [quote comment="231055"]Maybe government should revert to looking after people (you know, housing the disabled, buying cots for ICU babies etc), and let the clubs fund roadside sculptures and football games.[/quote]

    That would make more sense, wouldn't it.

    .. and people need to get lives.

    AG Canberra 4:49 pm 25 Aug 09

    Skid I may have missed it - but do the contributions to the Labor Party count as Community Contributions?

    Because maybe that's all we need here - is a tightening up of what constitutes a "community contribution"....

    random 3:14 pm 25 Aug 09

    Thanks Skid, very interesting.

    "and those who do already own sporting facilities, so can improve their own assets and get a free ride, relative to their peers"

    From that PDF, Gungahlin Lakes: $1,776,760 total eligible contributions; $1,692,835 on sports and recreation. I wonder how much of that is maintenance of the golf course.

    "ClubsACT claim the typical Club returns 90% of turnover to players"

    That's revolting. I had no idea it was so low -- the house edge on roulette at the casino is half that.

    Skidbladnir 3:14 pm 25 Aug 09

    Caf:

    Doing a rundown by NGMR gets convoluted, in that sports clubs and facilities with clubhouses (ie: golf courses) get to declare any money spent on 'sporting facilities available to the public, whether generally available or only for limited periods'.

    As example, Federal Golf Club only received $41k from the pokies, but spent $588k on 'eligible activities', so gets a "Community Contribution" of a whopping 1888%.

    It gets wierder if you want me to use 'adjusted' vs 'real' figures for contributions into the bonus categories of Women's Sport or Problem Gambling or for calculating a totals (there are $150k worth of 'adjustments'), or if you want it by Club Group.

    For a summary, read bolded bits and indented bits, or just stop at where the "click for more" entry is when you view it on the frontpage.

    I had originally asked Jb if he wanted it broken into seperate sets or all in one article, I went with Jb's choice. He still overruled about half of my formatting in favour for making me look like a double-spaceing loon, though.

    (And providing a brief version in addition to this? How much time do you think I have? I did this one gratis... :P)

    RandomGit 3:00 pm 25 Aug 09

    I personally place far more value on independent figures and statements which can be easily checked via references

    Just as well this article was full of just the things you mention there.

    This article is amoung the best, if not THE best, I've read on RA. I found it enthralling and the story indeed unfolded like a rose that shone pure amazify from every petal.

    I may be embellishing my appreciation just a little. You get the idea.

    someoneincanb 1:35 pm 25 Aug 09

    Skid thanks for this informative piece. I liked that all your facts had references that I could follow up if I want to know more. There was a good amount of facts and figures to back up the overall feel and opinion of this article. You provided a lot of reliable information about the workings of Clubs in Canb - things I have never thought much about before because I don't play pokies or go to clubs.

    For readers who wanted a summary - it was right there in the title "Poker machines, the money and Labor". Skid gave you the entire jist of the article in those 6 words. Would love to see more quality articles like this so prospective writers do not feel discouraged by some of the responses here. There ARE people who read this, are interested and learn something. The others could simply limit their reading to the headlines.

    VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 1:24 pm 25 Aug 09

    [quote comment="231057"]Richer persons tend not to play the pokies (so have a smaller proportion of population playing pokies).

    Richer people also have higher Household disposable Income (HDI), so dollar for dollar richer people who do play the pokies contribute far less portion of their HDI as tax revenue than poorer people who play the pokies.

    [/quote]

    I suspect that poorer people will, generally speaking, have less education than richer people also, leading to this group having less understanding about the real odds of winning and thus making them more vulnerable to pokie related gambling problems.

    I put the occasional $5 into a pokie (perhaps 2 or 3 times a year), and it concerns me when you see people with desperate looks on their faces feeding $20 notes into these things.

    Pommy bastard 1:22 pm 25 Aug 09

    Poker machines are a voluntary stupidity tax.

    I've no problem with d*mb*ss*s who want to pay money to see bright flashing lights and spinning wheels go around, it's their choice. The fact that this income for the clubs is double taxed is a good thing, the fact that the money is directed into worthwhile activities for people with lives is a good thing.

    "Problem gambling" or "gambling addiction" or whatever the PC term is for p!ssing good money down the drain, are at best psychological addictions, ones which you choose to develop, and have to work hard to get, well done them for achieving their goals and for paying for my kid's basketball court. If it wasn't gambling it may be sex, drugs, alcohol, or rollerblading they would get themselves hooked on, at least we get to spend some of their cash in a fruitful way from this

    pmcb 1:02 pm 25 Aug 09

    Stateline did a story on August 7th.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2009/08/10/2650968.htm

    caf 12:41 pm 25 Aug 09

    I've got to agree that a summarised version would be easier to digest - if we want all the figures we can go to the source ourselves. It would be interesting to see the "community contribution" league tables broken up into sports clubs (that presumably spend it on themselves) and non-sports clubs.

    djk 12:17 pm 25 Aug 09

    Homer: Marge, we need to talk. You're spending too much time at the

    casino and I think you may have a problem.

    Marge: I won sixty dollars last night!

    Homer: Woo-hoo! Problem solved.

    Skidbladnir 12:08 pm 25 Aug 09

    [quote comment="231053"]I liked reading it. Thanks :)[/quote]

    Thanks. :)

    I realise poker machines aren't the most exciting topic in the world.

    The reasons I decided to do it were:

    1) I was sick for a week, and then so was the LadySkid. I had far too much time on my hands, and nothing to do with it.

    2) There isn't any plain English good-quality coverage of ACT Gaming other than ClubsACT, who clearly have a vested interest.

    3) After the ACT Treasury turns over its report into the poliy shift to the Assembly (October), there's a Federal Productivity Commission into Gambling for November. Its not going off the radar in a hurry.

    [quote comment="231053"]I wonder though about the labor club having 272 pokies but claiming only 3000 dollars more than the club next on the list with 155 pokies. Is that just the way it averaged out or something?[/quote]

    That is an average annual income per machine.

    Canberra Labor Club: 272 machines @ $55,337 = $15,051,661pa

    CSCC Tuggeranong: 155 machines @ $52,060 = $8,069,300pa

    The Labor Club works their machines hard

    harvyk1 12:01 pm 25 Aug 09

    Actually GB, if you read what I had to say it was that the article and it's point should have been clear, concise, and easy to read, with links to support their point of view should someone what to fact check what they have said.

    I personally place far more value on independent figures and statements which can be easily checked via references rather than a jumbled collection of facts, figures, personal opinion with a few links thrown in at random.

    Also Skidbladnir, why don't you want to rewrite to satisfy short attention spans? Why not provide a summary of what you want to discuss, with a link to a larger article for those people who want to find out more?

    You also have to remember that some of us on here don't have time to digest huge amounts of information, however we can still provide input and ideas. Also by providing an executive summary it may encourage more people to read what you have had to say. You've obviously spent some time writing it, surely you want as many people as possible to read it.

    Skidbladnir 11:32 am 25 Aug 09

    [quote comment="231028"]

    I'd be interested in some more clarification about the hazy definition of 'contributing NGMR back into the community'. I understand that upgrade and maintenance of club sporting facilities is viewed in this category, but what other activities/facilities/building/etc. comes under this umbrella?[/quote]

    http://www.gamblingandracing.act.gov.au/Documents/Community%20Contributions%20Report%202007-08.pdf

    Attachment B (Pg15).

    For others:

    c9: In my view, pokies are a voluntary form of taxation...

    Yes, they are a form of consumption tax.

    Richer persons tend not to play the pokies (so have a smaller proportion of population playing pokies).

    Richer people also have higher Household disposable Income (HDI), so dollar for dollar richer people who do play the pokies contribute far less portion of their HDI as tax revenue than poorer people who play the pokies.

    IE: The tax (and political donation) burden is falling hardest on individual 'working families' that Labor claim to defend, and that the CFMEU claim to be acting in the interests of. Also, there are more of the lower-income persons playing the machines.

    ghughes: Gambling is a tax on people who failed math.

    GregW: (Poker machines are) Well understood, especially when it comes to expected returns.

    Yes, but the odds are fixed against players and they do provide signs for poeple who don't catch on so quickly, while it doesn't take advanced maths to know that $0.87 return on a $1.00 is a loss, the signs that actually explain that on the machines are brassy labels with small print, next to BIG FLASHING IMAGES and value of the current jackpot.

    Probabilty and outcomes of chance aren't typically taught in vocational education courses, and the greatest concentrations of machines, and spending per capita are highest in other States are in disadvantaged SEIFA(Economic Disadvantage) municipalities, home to a relatively greater portion of vocationally and remedially-educated persons.(Link)

    SEIFA is the SocioEconomic Indexes For Australia.

    Friska:Have you thought about the local community with disabilities who have been able to live a life because of ACT Clubs purchasing special needs equipment?

    Have you thought how much of that funding was received from disadvantaged people who are addicts, or how much of the "We give special needs equipment to disadvantaged people" line they sing so loudly about is a brand-relations exercise?

    They have after all, taken money from a whole lot of people, taken their cut from it, then passed on a trickle to a community segment which they look nice for doing, and it classes as a Charitable Contribution, so can count towards their mandatory 7% (or a discretionary bonus payment if they have already met quota), in accordance with the law.

    (Yes, some money returned to the community is good, but possibly not as good as letting the community have more in their own wallet to contribute to causes they support.)

    c9: What’s the point of this post? I read the first few lines

    harvyk: What’s the point of the article??? If someone could rewrite it in 50 words or less please, I have no desire to read...

    If your attention span is only long enough to read 50 words or a few lines, you guys aren't the audience the bit is targetted at. Not everything that gets published on RA is here for your pleasure, just as not all of the Canberra times interests everybody.

    Its a pick-and-mix kind of thing.

    (And no, I won't rewrite to satisfy short attention spans.)

    housebound 11:28 am 25 Aug 09

    Good post skid. Sure it's longer than the attention span of a goldfish, but it's good to stretch attention spans. Thanks for putting all this in one place. It's not my special interest, but that makes it all the more intersting and useful because I'll NEVER do that research myself.

    As for those pokies supporters, if you want to justify exploitative, commercialised gambling dens on the basis of a few dispensations thrown out to some disadvantaged, please realise there are better ways to do it. Oh, hang on - that's what taxes are for.

    Maybe government should revert to looking after people (you know, housing the disabled, buying cots for ICU babies etc), and let the clubs fund roadside sculptures and football games.

    GB 11:28 am 25 Aug 09

    So, rather than digesting information and thinking about it, Friska reckons we should listen to people like Friska who write short sentences with no information. Backed up by harvyk1, speaking up for shock-jock survivors.

    And we should apparently form our views based on those of people who work in clubs, rather than people who want to look at the informatiom, think about outcomes etc.

    "How many people are in jobs because of these Clubs" -- oh, hang on, that might need a figure, or even a percentage! Can't be having that.

    Let's keep information and debate out of this.

    And use short sentences.

    Thought is bad.

    BB knows.

    Hells_Bells74 11:20 am 25 Aug 09

    I liked reading it. Thanks :)

    I wonder though about the labor club having 272 pokies but claiming only 3000 dollars more than the club next on the list with 155 pokies. Is that just the way it averaged out or something?

    AG Canberra 11:17 am 25 Aug 09

    I have worked for a number of clubs mentioned in the article. Yes they employ a lot of people. Yes they provide legislated returns to the community. Yes they provide some social amenity in our community.

    However their power and dominance of business and Government in the ACT and the relatively cheap taxation regime they enjoy should be questioned.

    Mega clubs will never go broke. They cried foul when anti smoking laws were brought in. They said it will be the end of their community grants. What crap. If anything they have prospered - with more non-smokers now playing the pokies.

    Look at the very favourable deal the Cross club did with the gov in Woden. We'll fix up that intersection - and in return the taxpayers can give us a huge chunk of land that we can develop, make a tidy profit from and then use that cash to further expand and refurbish our premises. Once again taxpayers lose out in the 'deal'.

    And anyone that thinks the 'board' of the Labor Club actually makes the decisions in the best interest of its members is dreaming. It makes decisions based on what the labor party needs - not what the pokie playing, food eating, bingo playing and raffle ticket buying punter wants.

    Jim Jones 11:15 am 25 Aug 09

    [quote comment="231047"]

    Figures, charts, percentages, who really cares. [/quote]

    Who cares about the facts? You'd rather be involved in debate and discussion that consciously ignores reality? Are you serious?

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