There are calls for the State Government to do more to curb the growing gambling addiction in Sydney's Fairfield.
This is despite new legislation proposed by the NSW Government to cap the number of poker machines in disadvantaged areas.
According to the National Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Fairfield is the most disadvantaged region in Sydney and the 5th most disadvantaged in the state, yet residents of Fairfield, in the last year alone, poured $8.4 billion into gaming machines.
While the reforms will prevent clubs in areas such as Fairfield from purchasing any more gambling machines, it will allow them to instead be leased from other venues, providing a loophole to clubs who wish to continue increasing their poker-machine numbers.
Fairfield resident David Zamprogno has witnessed the decline of a close friend. His addiction began with a $5,000 win at the Marconi Club in the Fairfield suburb of Wetherill Park and ended with “no job, a bad drug problem and a gambling addiction.”
“He also turned to crime, theft, fraud and drug trafficking to support his habit,” Mr Zamprogno said.
He said his friend went on to draw down all the equity on his own home, and then his mother's, with both houses being repossessed by the bank as a result.
The clubs prey on the fact that they are disadvantaged and benefit from them gambling away their whole lives.
According to Allison Keogh of the Alliance for Gambling Reform local government areas like Fairfield already have more machines than the whole of Tasmania.
"These areas need machine numbers massively reduced,” Ms Keogh said.
She said the NSW Government was “failing to protect ordinary people and continuing to deliver for a predatory industry which makes obscene amounts of money from an addictive product”.
Last year, Mounties, in the Fairfield suburb of Mount Pritchard, maintained its title of NSW’s most profitable club, earning over $103 million from poker machines alone.
This club resides in an area with the highest unemployment rate in Sydney, at almost 10%, and with over 80,500 of its residents receiving government pensions or allowances.
“I see these people sitting at the pokies all day,” according to a Mounties employee who did not want to be named. “I know most of them can’t afford it, not the amount they put in.”
“The clubs prey on the fact that they are disadvantaged and benefit from them gambling away their whole lives.”
She said that there needs to be action taken to help these people and that clubs “adding more and more machines isn’t it.
Another 18 pubs and 19 clubs containing gaming machines are located in the Fairfield area.