Industry denies we're pokies capital
THE poker machine industry claims Australia does not have 20% of the world's poker machines.
Its claims are based on an industry report commissioned by local manufacturers in 2010.
The Australian Hotels Association questioned figures from the Australian Productivity Commission, reported in Wednesday's issue of The Northern Star.
They estimated Australia had one-fifth of the world's poker machines, with about half operating in NSW.
The story described NSW as the "poker machine capital of the world" based on figures from two government reports into gambling in 1999 and 2010.
Despite this, the AHA claims Australia has only 2.8% of the world's poker machines - a figure based on an industry-funded report titled World Count of Poker Machines, commissioned by the Gaming Technologies Association of Australia.
Dr Martin Young from Southern Cross University's Centre for Gambling Education and Research who is co-developing a model to map the likely incidence of poker machine-related harm, said that while he considered the Productivity Commission's figures accurate, the issue was somewhat of a distraction.
"It doesn't really matter so much if we have 1% or 50% of the world's total number of machines; what matters is how available they are because that is what produces gambling-related harm," he said.
He said the numbers depended on the definition of a poker machine which may include the UK's fruit machines or Japan's pachinko machines which were different to our Vegas-style slot machines.
"The fact is Australia has one of the highest densities of poker machine provision outside of casinos and that's what's unique about the Australian configuration - that they are so accessible," he said.
An AHA spokesperson declined to comment yesterday and the chief executive officer was not available for an interview.