The Labor Party-owned Labor Club group is one of the Canberra clubs most heavily reliant on poker machines, new figures show.
The Labor Club group, run by a board dominated by Labor Party appointees, gets 68 per cent of its total operating revenue from poker machines, the second highest of any club.
The news comes as Australian National University research shows problem gambling in Canberra is overwhelmingly worse among single men with education to Year 12 or less. Sixteen per cent of men in the category show signs of problem gambling, which is worst in the 25 to 44 age group, where 18 per cent of single Canberra men with Year 12 or less have at least one symptom of problem gambling.
The figures are in submissions to the ACT Assembly's inquiry into the clubs industry in Canberra, where anti-pokies Senator Nick Xenophon is due to give evidence on Tuesday.
The figures showing the percentage of each club's revenue that comes from poker machines are in a submission from the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission. The commission doesn't name the clubs, but the figures can be matched with other reports of poker machine revenue held by the commission.
They suggest the Belconnen Soccer Club group is most reliant on poker machines, which made up 74 per cent of its total gross operating revenue, of $5.2 million in 2013-14.
Next is the Labor Club group, which made $36.6 million in the year, of which 68 per cent came from poker machines.
The commission reports that on average, half of club revenue comes from poker machines. But it's clear the big club groups are the most reliant on poker machines, most of them making well over 50 per cent of their revenue from pokies. An exception is the Southern Cross Club group, the second biggest owner of poker machines, with 680 machines, which made 46 per cent of its $56 million revenue from poker machines. The biggest owner of machines is the Tuggeranong Rugby Union group, with 704 machines. It made 63 per cent of its $40.4 million revenue from pokies.
The Labor Party has long insisted no conflict of interest between its association with the Labor Club and its ability to make laws governing clubs and poker machines. One former leader, Jon Stanhope, has been fighting for the party to sell the clubs and sever its reliance on gambling money, but his attempt this year got no further than his sub-branch, where it was soundly defeated.
While the party appoints six of the nine Labor Club board members at its annual conference, it says their obligation is to the club group, not the party. The party also disputes descriptions of the party as "owner" of the clubs, saying the relationship is more complicated than that, despite party members controlling the board and the profits being directed to the party.
The Assembly's inquiry into the clubs industry is waiting to receive the first data on problem gambling in Canberra from a study of more than 7000 people last year by the ANU's Centre for Gambling Research. In the meantime, the centre has continued to analyse data from a 2009 study of 5500 Canberrans.
In its submission to the inquiry, the centre's Bryan Rodgers said men accounted for two-thirds of poker machine spending. The least-educated 10 per cent of the ACT population (those without Year 12) contributed almost one-quarter of pokies revenue. The 45 per cent of the population who had degrees contributed just 16 per cent of revenue.
"This translates into those with lower education spending six to seven times more on average compared to those with degrees," he said.
At least 40 per cent of pokies spending came from people with a gambling problem.
The risk of problem gambling among single men aged under 45 and without Year 12 was more than 20 times the risk for women with a partner and a degree.
The commission said the 2009 survey showed 14,530 Canberrans reported symptoms of problem gambling. Of them, 5490 were moderate or high risk problem gamblers.
Just under 25,000 Canberrans reported spending between $1000 and $10,000 in the previous year on gambling, with 3800 saying they had spent more than $10,000.