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.
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).