Under NSW law money from unclaimed poker machine winnings and unclaimed gaming machine tickets go into the state governments NSW Community Development Fund (CDF), which is managed by the Office of Responsible Gambling.
Under the Gaming Machines Act 2001, the money can be spent “for such community benefits as the Secretary considers appropriate” – a discretion which is delegated to the Deputy Secretary within the Liquor, Gaming & Racing Division.
Between 2014-2016, the fund was used to issue grants of $3.34 million to 52 projects, the majority of them local community projects such as new school facilities, as well as 30 separate grants to upgrade war memorials across regional NSW.
What is mystifying is how a Jackie Chan film and the world’s richest greyhound race came to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the fund.
In 2016, the fund donated $850,000 to the sci-fi thriller Bleeding Steel starring Jackie Chan so that parts of the film could be shot in Sydney. It was the largest grant to a single project, accounting for a quarter of the total funding pool.
A spokesman for Liquor and Gaming NSW defended the grant saying the government “undertook a thorough cost-benefit analysis” and decided the film would deliver “significant short and long-term economic and tourism benefits, particularly from Asia”.
“The project directly injected over $20 million into the NSW economy and employed over 1100 staff, crew, cast and extras in NSW between May and September 2016,” the spokesman said.
However, the movie itself was a complete bomb with the South China Morning Post stating, “With this one [Chan] hits a new low in terms of the nonsensical garbage he is willing to put his name to.”
The NSW Racing industry was another big beneficiary when they were handed $500,000 in July for the Million Dollar Chase greyhound race series. This was in addition to a $400,000 package to establish the ‘Back to the Track’ grants program to promote “thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racecourses and clubs across regional and remote NSW”. A doubly confusing donation when you consider the Coalition attempted to ban the sport entirely in NSW just two years before.
The Community Development Fund was created in 2001 however, it is not clear how much money has been channeled into the fund over the past two decades and where it has been spent.
The Department of Industry – which oversees the office of Liquor and Gaming NSW – said it had no record of how the fund was used prior to 2014.
Sources: SMH, The Brisbane Times, Calvin Ayre