Shoalhaven clubs made $31 million and hotels another $5.7 million from poker machines in six months, according to the NSW Department of Industry.
The recent data shows that Shoalhaven clubs and hotels were the most profitable in the region compared with those in the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, Goulburn and Snowy Monaro council areas.
Shoalhaven also has the highest number of gambling machines in clubs (1388) and hotels (237) in the region.
Eurobodalla clubs and hotels earned the second-highest in net profits from gamblers.
Clubs made $15 million from 729 gambling machines and hotels $2 million from 97 machines.
State South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said most people gamble responsibly, but for a small number of people it is a problem and “we want to make sure that anyone who needs help, can get help”.
“We are committed to addressing problem gambling, having allocated $25 million for responsible gambling initiatives this year,” Ms Hancock said.
“Free counselling is available in the South Coast region including phone, online and face-to-face services, which benefit from this funding.
“In March this year the NSW Government also introduced the most significant gaming reforms in a decade.
“We’ve introduced strict caps on the number of gaming machines in higher-risk communities and improved community consultation and transparency when venues apply for extra machines.”
Bega Valley clubs closely followed their counterparts in Eurobodalla with $10.8 million, but it was the hotels in Goulburn that registered the third-highest net profit ($2.18 million) in the region.
The data for clubs was for the period between December 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018 and the hotels data was for the six months between January 1, 2018 and June 30, 2018.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform director Tim Costello said NSW suffers the highest level of poker machine losses of any jurisdiction in the world with average adult losses now running at almost $1000 a year.
“Every region is badly hit but the $80 million lost on the South Coast is doing enormous harm to the community. It would be much better to have that money circulating through the economy into more productive activities,” Mr Costello said.
“NSW needs to dramatically reduce machine numbers and make the machines less dangerous through reforms such as $1 maximum bets as recommended by the Productivity Commission, along with reduced trading hours and restrictions on cash advances.”
The association said more than 90,000 $10 maximum bet poker machines are running in 2600 pubs across NSW and pokie losses are running at almost $7 billion a year.
A ClubsNSW spokesperson said to the Milton Ulladulla Times Shoalhaven’s 27 clubs contribute to the region through employment, providing grants to local charities and schools and servicing more than 100,000 members.
Shoalhaven clubs had donated more than $800,000 through ClubGRANTS over the past year.
“Shoalhaven clubs make an enormous contribution to the region, employing 892 locals and providing more than $844,000 in ClubGRANTS funding to a range of worthy causes, including local charities, schools and sporting groups,” the spokesperson said.
“The region’s 27 clubs paid $10.4 million in gaming machine taxes to the state government in the past 12 months, helping to provide and maintain much-needed services including hospitals, schools and roads.
“According to a top 4 accountancy firm, they also made an economic contribution of approximately $63.6 million.
The spokesperson said clubs are vital community hubs, particularly in regional areas.
“Shoalhaven clubs service more than 104,000 members, offering affordable entertainment, food and beverage options and providing a safe and secure place where patrons can socialise with family or friends.”
Bomderry Bowling Club, Mollymook Bowling Club and Milton Ulladulla ExServos Club.
Clubs and hotels in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council area earned the least from poker machines compared with others in the region.
They also have fewer gambling machines compared with others in the region.
Snowy Monaro Regional Council area clubs made $8.2 million from 162 gambling machines, whereas hotels made a net profit of about $1 million from 99 machines.