Northern Rivers towns have been named as pokie hotspots.
Northern Rivers towns have been named as pokie hotspots. Rob Williams

POKIES HOTSPOTS: Which towns in our region are 'high risk'?

HOTELS and clubs in Casino, Evans Head, Lismore and Ballina will not be able to acquire any more gaming machines under NSW Government gambling reform legislation.

Minister for Racing Paul Toole announced the reforms on Tuesday and the NSW Government will cap the number of gaming machines in communities deemed "high-risk".

Under the reforms, venues in non-capped areas can only acquire more gaming machines by purchasing entitlements from other venues, but will still need to apply through the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority.

However, Casino RSM Club Secretary Manager Neale Genge said the legislation had no bearing on his club and would do nothing to stop problem gambling.

He said the possibility of increasing gaming machine numbers was already highly restricted.

"The factors used to classify 'high risk' areas is generally based on socio-economic indicators including mean household income, education levels, percentage of people from non English speaking background and percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people," Mr Genge said.

"So using those factors yes, Casino and the Richmond Valley area, is classed as a high risk area."

The new reforms include an overhaul of the Local Impact Statement Assessment (LIA) scheme that regulates gaming machines, through classification of all areas based on risk of introducing additional machines.

According to the LIA map, residents residing in the Ballina CBD are under the highest threat for gambling addiction on the Northern Rivers, as the six clubs and seven hotels share a total of 475 machines or one machine for every 34 people.

Mr Genge said the NSW Government's decision to cap the number of gaming machines failed to address the underlying issues relating to problem gambling.

"The number of the machines is not the issue. Gambling is everywhere, church raffles, bingo, keno, online lotto, Melbourne Cup Day and two up on Anzac Day," Mr Genge said.

"It's more just a case of the government window dressing and seeing to be doing something rather than tacking the real issue."

Mr Genge said if there was one problem gambler in its venue, then that was one too many.

"I would say to anyone who has a gambling problem please seek help and don't come into the Casino RSM Club until you are satisfied you have your addiction under control."

LIA Map Statistics

Ballina CBD, there is one gaming machine to 34 people.

  • Clubs: 6
  • Hotels: 7
  • Gaming machines: 475
  • Population: 16,159

Lismore CBD, there is one gaming machine to 44 people.

  • Clubs: 7
  • Hotels: 11
  • Gaming machines: 350
  • Population: 15,564

Casino CBD, there is one gaming machine to 63 people.

  • Clubs: 2
  • Hotels: 7
  • Gaming machines: 187
  • Population: 11,842

Evans Head, there is one gaming machine to 34 people.

  • Clubs: 5
  • Hotels: 3
  • Gaming machines: 144
  • Population: 4992