by Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Australian state of New South Wales loses 5.46 billion Australian dollars (4.19 billion U.S. dollars) every year to gambling machines, it has been revealed Wednesday, after an investigation by the Australian Greens Party.
The findings were calculated by examining the profit of gaming machines and found disadvantaged areas of Sydney were the hardest hit.
In the Western Sydney suburb of Fairfield, the figures show that 10 percent of the average income is lost on gaming machines.
"If you look at it as a statewide figure, the problem is actually far greater in some areas," Greens Party candidate in the Fairfield area Bill Cashman told Xinhua.
"The Fairfield area is a very poor area compared to the rest of Sydney, people are doing it tough and there is a lot of social dislocation, yet we have some of the biggest gaming clubs in the state."
Gambling is very much a part of Australian culture. Aussies wager more per capita than any other nation on earth, but despite calls for more restrictions on gaming from many different sectors of society, little has been done to quell the country's addiction.
"There is a lack of political will, the gaming industry is very powerful, the club industry is very powerful and the Hotels Lobby is very powerful, so rather than make some hard decisions, our leaders turn a blind eye to it," Cashman said.
"We have to get away from this culture of facilitating gambling that we have seen over the last 20 years."
A lot of science goes into developing gaming machines, Cashman said.
They are designed to stimulate and capture a player's interest by employing a number of subconscious strategies to keep the gambler spending.
"The machines are designed so that people can spend so much more in such short amount of time," Cashman said.
"I remember the old poker machines that you could only put coins in and you had to pull a handle, these days they're designed to suck in notes."
In other countries like the U.S., gaming machines are programmed to pay out roughly 15-25 percent of the time or more.
But in Australia the rate of success is usually 10 percent or less, despite this Australians continue to engage with the machines.
"Often these are people that may have a bit of desperation in their lives," Cashman said.
"They are looking for a quick fix and gaming machines give them the feeling they are achieving something when they're not."
Ironically, the cost of problem gambling on Australian society is roughly the same figure as the amount that is lost by gamblers in the state of New South Wales, according to the Australian Productivity Commission.
"A lot of the time you don't see the direct effects of problem gambling because it often manifests itself in other things like not being able to put food on the table, rental problems and even family violence."