This week, SkyCity was given the go-ahead to renovate Adelaide Casino in South Australia. While the project is aimed at boosting the economy, there are some concerns that it will have a negative effect on the community by driving up problem gambling rates. Senator Nick Xenophon, who has spent the past few years campaigning for pokie reform, believes that the project will only attract more problem gamblers.
Since the casino will be adding up to 1500 new pokies and 200 new table games, Xenophon has expressed concerns that players will be able to spend more money and may engage in harmful gambling behaviour. “The fact is this will increase levels of gambling addiction in South Australia. It will lead to a much more aggressive gambling market,” he says in an interview with ABC News.
“The redevelopment project will create hundreds of temporary construction jobs, and thousands of permanent jobs when the renovations are completely. This will help to boost the local economy by providing work for residents across the state.
While this has been touted as a major benefit of the redevelopment of Adelaide Casino, Nick Xenophon is not convinced: “Any state government that is chasing economic development off the back of a boom in gambling is really chasing fool's gold,” he argues. He quotes a study from the University of Adelaide which states that every million dollars that is lost on pokies creates about three jobs.
He compares it to retail spending, in which $1 million creates six jobs, and hospitality, where $1 million creates 18 jobs. As such, he believes that there are better ways to boost economic growth in South Australia. Regardless, the redevelopment of the Adelaide Casino will go ahead. The construction will start in February 2017.