A News Agent and a Publican walk into a bar….
My imaginary target audience is News Agent National Association members, and the medium is an online newsletter to members. The message is to lobby for gaming machine licenses, and the goal is a call to action to members to give their feedback on this proposal (via a survey). My role is the advocate for this idea. This idea is for NSW in Australia, where poker machines are legal in any pub, club or hotel.
Please note the ideas in this blog post are not endorsed by me, it’s a future thinking exercise.
Australia’s 3,800 News Agencies have been suffering greatly in recent times, and their future continues to look dark.
As our members know too well, turnover is forecast to continue to decline 3% annually, driven largely by consumption of free digital media, but also the decline in instant lottery sales, which represents one quarter of News Agencies $2bn turnover.
The other enormous problem that our members face is that news agencies exclusive rights to sell scratchies in Australia expired on 31 March 2018 (after being extended for 5 years), and super markets are desperate to move in on instant lottery sales.
News agencies still have not diversified and seem at a loss to resolve this problem.
For inspiration, News Agencies, the National Association and the Media companies who rely on our member network should look at Gaming Machines.
Gaming Machines have been the source of the decline in instant lottery turnover, as gamblers turn in droves to gaming machines in pubs and clubs since deregulation in the early nineties.
Gaming machines are now widely distributed (except for WA), present in 3,000 licensed pubs and clubs (75% of total), and there are almost 200k machines, with half of them located in NSW (Figure 1) in these venues.
Figure 1 The proliferation of Gaming Machines in Clubs and Pubs in 2015/2016
Subsequently, Gaming machine turnover has increased 600%, from $23 bn in 1990/91 to $143bn in 2015/16 (Figure 2) .
Figure 2 Explosion in turnover of Gaming Machines in Clubs and Pubs
For pubs across Australia, this has meant a reversal in fortunes for the publican. Each machine is estimated to make over $100k annually for the pub owner.
If News Agencies were given the license to have poker machines on premises, they could double State revenue assuming another 200k machines could be installed in their base of 3,800 outlets, and provide a future revenue stream that will support their business well beyond what instant lotteries and newspapers could do.
Figure 2 Newsagency of the future
The National Association of News Agencies are polling our members to assess the level of support for this future direction of News Agencies. Once we have gathered the facts, we will lobby both media companies and Government as your representative body for the legislative change to make this happen.
Please complete the survey HERE to give your view on this vital issue by 15 June 2018.
My data is from the Australian Gambling Statistics 1990–91 to 2015–16, 33rd edition which is a survey conducted annually by the Queensland Government. The data comes in excel format, ready to use. I augmented this with data on the number of gaming machines in each state, combined with the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Gambling from 2010.