ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon Print

Australia's gambling addiction extends far beyond high rollers

Poker machines pull in piles of cash for pubs and clubs

Poker machines glimmer at a pub in Sydney. With the exceptions of Las Vegas in the U.S. and China's special administrative territory of Macao, no other place offers Australia's array of gambling options.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- Inside the VIP lounge at my local pub, there are few signs of luxury -- no receptionist to welcome a very important person, no waiters circulating with canapes and free drinks, and no comfortable armchairs. Instead, the interior is semidark and the only seats and drink trays are in front of 20 electronic gaming machines -- better known in Australia as poker machines, or "pokies."

In the world of Australian clubs and pubs, a "VIP lounge" sign is the not-so-secret code for the presence of poker machines, given that advertising them is prohibited. Every day, these flashing signs confirm that Australia has a gambling problem, and the state of New South Wales is the biggest addict of all. Playing the pokies or having a punt on the horse races is part of the social life of many people, but comes with terrible losses for some. 

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more