Alex Crowe

Poker machine profits in Queanbeyan double during Canberra COVID-19 closures | The Canberra Times

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Profits from pokies in Queanbeyan more than doubled each month ACT clubs stayed closed due to COVID-19, when compared to the year prior. Following reports Canberrans rushed across the border to gamble when NSW venues opened on June 1, the 15 venues in the Queanbeyan-Palerang local government area took in $7,384,845 from gaming that month, up from $3,462,833 in June 2019. While ACT gaming machines stayed switch off to comply with early stage-three restrictions in July, Queanbeyan’s gaming profit shot up more than 150 per cent on the same time last year. The NSW gaming data revealed a more moderate increase of 84 per cent in August, with Canberra gaming venues switched back on in the second week of that month. ClubsACT chief executive Gwyn Rees fought hard to bring Canberra in line with its border state, claiming clubs were losing about $5 million in revenue per week during restrictions. “The ACT was the last jurisdiction to provide a COVID recovery roadmap, last to get relief out, slowest to reopen business and is the worst performing on business support,” Mr Rees said at the time. With Canberra clubs reopened throughout September, gaming machine profit from Queanbeyan’s eight clubs and seven hotels dropped to $5,321,528, still up 27 per cent on last year. Relationships Australia spokesperson Julie King said clients who engaged with the support service for counselling and financial advice during the coronavirus closures in Canberra had reported crossing to NSW during COVID-19. READ ALSO: Ms King said while having all gaming-machine venues closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus had been beneficial to problem gamblers who used machines, they had seen an increased uptake of online gambling. “I think the biggest issue of what’s happened with COVID is not necessarily changing the behaviour of the gambler but it’s the potential impact that had on their families,” she said. “If the gambler would not normally be gambling in the house the children would not normally be exposed to it, but given during the COVID time children were at home often they would observe their parent or their older sibling gambling which increases the risk to children.”

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