Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 18, 2022


Poker Machines

The Hon. C. BONAROS (14:42): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Attorney, representing the Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs in the other place, but also in his own capacity, a question about poker machines.

Leave granted.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: A report undertaken by South Australia's Liquor and Gambling Commissioner, Mr Dini Soulio, late last year but only tabled in parliament last sitting week makes for some disturbing reading. It revealed that a massive spike in poker machine losses saw the government reap a $120 million revenue windfall in 2020-21, with total gaming taxes collected last financial year topping a record $320.4 million. More disturbingly, the report found the $769.8 million lost through these devices in 2020-21—one year—was a 50 per cent increase, or more than $250 million, on the previous financial year and the highest reported loss since 2006-07.

The report noted that as of October 2021, South Australia's poker machine dens have the capacity to operate 13,721 gaming machines, 640 more than the legislated target. The report also revealed a statutory goal legislated in 2013 to reduce the number of poker machines that can be operated in South Australia to 13,081 is unlikely to be achieved. My questions to the Attorney are:

1. What is the newly installed Labor government going to do to stop the scourge of poker machine gambling in this state?

2. How do you intend to address the 640 poker machines operated in this state that are above the legislated number?

3. When can we expect to see a response from the government to the revelations exposed in the report by the commissioner?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:44): I thank the member for her question and her longstanding consistent interest and advocacy in this area. As she did correctly point out, it is the responsibility of my colleague in another place, the Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, in terms of the issue to do with poker machines. It would probably be brave and unwise for me to wander into someone else's portfolio area, so I will refer those to the minister in another place and bring back a response.