Lately, Australian gambling companies have been willing to demonstrate to the Governments and the public that they remain committed to funding so-called good causes, including education, arts, health and sports initiatives. Currently, Australia is one of the countries where gambling legislation requires gambling firms to donate some of their revenue to community and charitable causes.
However, recently-published research provided some data regarding the contributions of gambling companies in the state of Victoria during a 3-year period. The research was aimed at determining how much of the money categorised as benefits to the community was actually redirected to charitable causes.
According to the survey findings, the clubs donated money mostly to themselves, as they have categorised operating expenses as various “community benefits”. This, in fact, is not forbidden by the existing regulatory regime for gambling, but analysts have said that the claims that such clubs provide significant support to the community are just not right.
According to a study funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the social costs of gambling across the state were estimated at AU$7 billion in 2017. As revealed by the results of the research, these social costs included family and relationship breakdowns, increased crime, imprisonment and bankruptcy levels, health impact, more suicides.
This is exactly why researchers insist that it is important for the Government and the communities to know whether so-called community contributions provided by the operators actually offset some of the negative impacts which gambling has on local people.
Victorian Clubs Should Donate at Least 8.33% of Pokie Losses to Charitable Causes
Unfortunately, the past few years have seen an increase in the losses generated by Victorian residents on gambling. Gambling losses in the state of Victoria were estimated at AU$5.5 billion in 2017, while the total revenue contributed to the State Government by gambling amounted to AU$1.9 billion.
Currently, Victorian clubs which offer poker machines to their customers are required to provide no less than 8.33% of their overall pokie losses as community contributions. The community benefits in question are defined by a ministerial direction, which was last changed in 2012, to allow such clubs to claim not only operating expenses but also charitable, philanthropic, or benevolent contributions.
The most recent report found that in the period from July 2012 to June 2015, clubs with poker machines in the state of Victoria took in AU$2.6-billion net gambling revenue. From this amount, they claimed 32.5%, or AU$853 million, as benefits provided to the local community. The major goal of the research was to determine the actual extent to which charitable and philanthropic causes got benefits from gambling activities. Sadly, the results of the survey showed that these benefits may be largely false.
The research found that contributions to charitable causes represented only 1.5, or AU$38.7 million, of the overall net gambling revenue, which is far smaller than the required 8.33%. On the other hand, the operating costs for clubs and venues offering poker machines amounted to 70.7%, or AU$602.5 million, or all community benefit claims. Capital costs, wages and on-costs, club equipment, utilities and insurance were all included in the operating costs of the venues.