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Interactive maps: SA's pokies and disadvantage


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Adelaide’s most disadvantaged council areas have almost four times as many poker machines as the city’s most well-off areas.

The local government areas of Playford, Port Adelaide Enfield, Salisbury, Alexandria and Charles Sturt are host to 3246 gaming machines.

By contrast, in Adelaide’s most-advantaged council areas – Burnside, Mitcham, Prospect, Unley and the Adelaide Hills – there are only 937 machines.

However, there is an anomaly. One of Adelaide’s wealthiest council areas – Norwood Payneham St Peters – has the highest number of poker machines per 1000 adults.

Social welfare advocates argue the data shows that the poker machine industry targets disadvantaged South Australians, while the hotels industry says the machines went to the suburbs that historically had the most pubs.

InDaily’s two interactive poker machine maps below show the geographic spread of Adelaide’s coin-munchers.

We’ve laid the poker machine distribution map – represented by the dots and pins – next to a map showing suburban disadvantage.

How to use the interactive poker machine maps

  1. Give the maps a moment to load, they’re quite data heavy.
  2. The maps behaves like a Google map. You can use your mouse to move around the screen. Use your mousewheel or the buttons on the map to zoom in on a particular location or zoom out to view the whole state.
  3. Click on the pins to get more information about each venue and the number of poker machine licences they hold.
  4. Click on the suburbs to get more information about their disadvantage score.

The maps use poker machine registration data from the State Government along with the socio-economic data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Port Adelaide Enfield has 1247 machines, by far the most substantial holding of any council area. It’s also one of Adelaide’s most disadvantaged council areas.

The next biggest holder – the Adelaide Casino excepted – is the Charles Sturt council area with 821 machines.

Norwood Payneham St Peters, Alexandria, Port Adelaide Enfield and Holdfast Bay are the council areas with the highest ratio of poker machines to residents.

In South Australia the CBD has the highest concentration of poker machines – almost entirely because of the 995 machines held by Adelaide Casino.

South Australian Council of Social Service head Ross Womersley told InDaily it was clear poker machines were congregating in less-well-off areas.

“There is a concentration of poker machines in many lower socio-economic areas, which points to the fact that this is a key target audience for the industry,” he said.

“Some of them are there because the owners thought pokies would be a good income source to supplement the provision of drinks and food in the pub and so purchased the rights in early days.

“Presumably however the industry has calculated that income is likely to be greater in certain areas because certain people are more likely and more vulnerable to being attracted to play poker machines and those areas have a larger number of people that fit this profile.”

Pokie placement has nothing to do with disadvantage, says Australian Hotels Association head Ian Horne.

When poker machines were introduced in 1994 the vast majority of the state’s hotels applied for them. Hence they were clustered around the state’s historic population centres such as Port Adelaide.

“Hotels were there first,” he argues. “The bigger question is what facilitated the hotels being there?

“Historically, all of the very old hotels, the ones that have been there for 150 plus years, were where villages were established.

“That’s why in country towns, like Peterborough and Jamestown, you have four or five hotels. By modern standards you should only have one.”

People in highly disadvantaged areas lose significantly larger amounts of money to poker machines than those from more advantaged areas, a Victorian study published last year concluded.

The researchers found people living in the most advantaged 20 per cent of suburbs lost almost two-thirds less on poker machines than those in the top 20 per cent.

“The vulnerability of disadvantaged communities to electronic gaming machine (EGM) related harm is much greater than that of more resilient, socioeconomically advantaged communities,” the Monash University researchers wrote in their study.

“Yet it is clear that less vulnerable communities are much less likely to experience intense concentrations of either EGMs or EGM losses.”

According to State Government data, poker machines in Salisbury, Playford, Campbelltown and Tea Tree Gully return the highest revenue rates. A single machine in Salisbury generates almost $110,000 a year in revenue.

According to a 2004 study, 37 per cent of South Australians play the pokies at least once a year. The study estimated on average South Australians spent almost $900 a year on gambling.

There are 12,688 registered electronic gaming machines in South Australia.

Additional reporting: Cassandra Slaughter

Note: the map uses computer-generated geocoding of addresses alongside manual data entry. Efforts have been made to check the accuracy of venues but some pins may be incorrectly placed. If you spot a problem with the data please email

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