NSW pokies players are making up for lost time judging by the figures reported by The Sydney Morning Herald. Almost $92 million was spent on NSW pokies during the first week of gambling venues reopening.

Australian gamblers were shut out of their favourite casinos and clubs since mid-March. The Australian government ordered all non-essential businesses to close to help prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. Casinos, pubs, and clubs fall under the umbrella of non-essential business.

Gamblers are going to gamble no matter what obstacles they face. Most continued their trade in online casinos, which became even more popular. Online gaming participation increased by 67% after the first week of casino closures. This increased to almost 150% by the end of May.

Online pokies and casino games are great fun, but for NSW pokies players they’re no substitute for the real thing.

Lockdown restrictions are in the process of being eased around the world, including in Australia. Casinos await the green light to resume business, but clubs reopened in New South Wales. The reopening caused a major rush get to back to playing pokies in a live setting.

NSW Pokies Players Spend $92 Million in a Week

Saying NSW pokies players love their machines is one of the understatements of the year. NSW residents have flocked to clubs across the territories and played pokies at an almost unprecedented level. You can certainly say they’re making up for lost time.

Clubs in NSW reported massive increase in the turnover, and therefore net revenue, of its pokies. The average turnover for the whole of June 2019 was $,2094 with net revenue $174. The first week of June 2020 saw this increase to $3,886 and $324 respectively.

These clubs reopened with approximately 50% of their pokies turned off. This is a requirement of reopening for business. Club managers are not stupid and they turned off the lesser performing machines, leaving only popular pokies.

Reporting Period Average Turnover Per Pokie Net Per Pokie
Reopening Month (1-7 June 2020) $3,886 $324
Shutdown Month (1-23 March 2020) $1,946 $161
June Last Year (1-30 June 2019) $2,094 $174

It’s a similar story for NSW pokies players using hotels to gamble the turn over is even larger.

Players turned over an average of $7,927 per machine, resulting in a $682 net. Compare this to all of June 2019 where you get $4,445 turnover and $378 net.

Reporting Period Average Turnover Per Pokie Net Per Pokie
Reopening Month (1-7 June 2020) $7,927 $682
Shutdown Month (1-23 March 2020) $4,298 $363
June Last Year (1-30 June 2019)) $4,445 $378

Remember that these figures are with at least 40% of pokies remaining switched off.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Worried By Figures

The Alliance for Gambling Reform are worried by the figures and demanded the government take action. Tony Mohr, the Executive Director of the group, painted a bleak picture.

“To prevent gambling harm from increasing the NSW government should reduce the number of poker machines by 40% to 55,000 machines. In the first week of operation after lockdown NSW Clubs fleeced $56.2 million and pokie pubs a further $35.4 million. That’s $91.6 million not spent on food and beverages at a time when we need it most.”

Mohr added that NSW pokies result in only three people for every $1 million spent. The hospitality average is 20 employees per $1 million spent, for comparison.

Mohr also pointed out there was a spike in gambling after the 2008 global financial crisis. The Australian government sent $1,000 cheques to people to try stimulate the economy. Figures suggest a lot of these cheques ended up in pokies.

NSW pokies players saved approximately $2 billion while venues were closed. Mohr expected to see a spike in gambling, but is flabbergasted by the actual figures.

“What is surprising is the scale of it, for them to be seeing an increase is mind-blowing. We’ve saved $2 billion while the pokies were switched off, which you can think of as a stimulus package in itself.”