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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Pokie poll shows Ballina voters want them gone

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The vast majority of locals want pubs and clubs to cut back on their poker machines and believe the devices are having a negative impact on the community, new polling data shows.

The poll, commissioned by the new owners of Byron’s Beach Hotel and conducted by the Australia Institute, suggests anti-pokie sentiment is running high across the region, with 80 per cent of respondents saying they felt the machines were designed to get people addicted.

Of the 890 people surveyed across the state electorate of Ballina, three-quarters said they supported cutting back on poker machines while just 10 per cent opposed the move.

The remaining 15 per cent were undecided.

The poll data come as the new owners of the Beach Hotel, a group of investors led by the Impact Investment Group, prepare to get rid of the 15 machines currently in the pub.

The hotel’s operator Elke Van Haandel said she was looking forward to ‘shutting the door on the gaming room once and for all’.

Figures from the NSW Office of Liquor and Gaming show that every year, $138 million is poured into poker machines in the Byron Shire alone.

About $13 million of this is lost, ending up in the pockets of the venue owners or the state government’s coffers.

Political poll

In addition to gauging the electorate’s views on poker machines The Australia Institute poll also took its political temperature.

Asking respondents whom they would vote for were an election held today, the poll found that the Greens were narrowly ahead of the Nationals on a two-party-preferred basis, 51 per cent to 49 per cent.

However, no party could command more than 29 per cent of the primary vote, suggesting that the result in the next state election will again come down to preferences.

The Nationals were narrowly ahead in terms of primary vote with 28.4 per cent, followed by the Greens (24.8 per cent), Country Labor (22.7 per cent) and Other/Independent (11.1 per cent).

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  1. People should be aware and able to play pokies sensibly. Most do. However, pokies should not be in hotels as the profits go into private hands. Clubs, on the other hand, are there to play a part in the community, offering food, entertainment and responsible gambling to the community. They are obliged and do contribute extensively to community groups, sporting, art, schools, etc. Without our clubs which are partly financially supported by pokies our communities would be much poorer.

  2. Marion is wrong to suggest that poker machines in clubs are a ‘community benefit’ in its widest sense. Her claims are not backed by evidence. For every $1 million that is taken in a poker machine venue or casino…between 1 and 3 jobs is created. If that same amount of money were put through retail shops instead…between 4 and 6 new jobs would be created.

    In fact, robot-computerized pokies kill jobs and ‘community benefit’ all around…except for the very few people who run the pokies and the political parties who score bribes from them, in return for protecting the venues’ cash cows….pokies!

    Poker machines are part of a corrupt and vicious business circle in both pubs and clubs…as well as in casinos. Even the disclosure today by MP Andrew WIlkie, that showed that pokies venue staff actively encouraged and ‘groomed’ heavy gamblers shows that our laws and codes for the pokies gambling industry are a shambles. The industry promises that club staff can better protect problem gamblers, but the reporting of help from staff is said to be non-existent. The whole industry relies on us believing its lies.

    NO poker machines in either pubs or clubs should be tolerated. WA refused to take the bait in the 1990’s…and WA has prospered without poker machines..with effective RSL’s and other functioning clubs in all WA communities. The eastern states have not fared nearly so well. Sadly all states should have taken WA’s lead.

  3. As a demonstration of how little clubs give back to the community, check out the Ballina RSL annual report. They donate less than they make from Bingo! You still pay similar money for food and drinks as elsewhere and not all of the entertainment is free so where does the rest of the $8.5 million (after paying taxes) go? Not to the community unless all we want is a big shiny building.


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