This was their answer to what to do with the pot of pokies wins that, for whatever reason, remain unclaimed by punters each year. The authorities have wide discretion in terms of what to do with this money, with the only requirement being that whatever it is spent on serves to benefit the community as a whole.
This is how a relatively unsuccessful movie by Jackie Chan and the world’s wealthiest Greyhound Race came to benefit from the fun created to redistribute pokies prize money back to the broader community in NSW.
The Community Development Fund was the source for the cash, which is in turn administered by the Office of Responsible Gambling, and was created from poker machine jackpot prizes and gaming machine tickets that have been left unclaimed.
According to the 2001 Gaming Machine Act, this money can be spent on whatever community benefits the Secretary considers to be appropriate, and the discretion has been delegated to the Deputy Secretary within the Division for Gaming, Liquor, and Racing. Liquor & Gaming NSW has been operational since the 1st of February 2016, combining the previous responsibilities of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, the two former agencies.
The Fund issued grants of AU$3.34 million to a total of 52 projects between 2014 and 2016, with most of these being made up local community projects like new facilities for schools and the upgrading of war memorials across the NSW region.
Bleeding Steel, a 2017 sci-fi thriller which saw Chan battling the obligatory evil villain atop the Sydney Opera House sails, got funded in part by a once-off direct grant to the tune of AU$850 000 from the NSW government. The grant was issued in 2016 and remains the largest one given to a single project, totalling a full quarter of funding pool total.
A spokesman for NSW Liquor and Gaming stated that a thorough cost benefit analysis had been undertaken, and it was decided that there would be both short- and long-term economic and tourism benefits from the project. More than AU$20 million got injected into the NSW economy, with over 1000 people finding work as cast members, crew, extras, and staff.