Unclaimed Gambling Winnings used to Fund a Jackie Chan Movie



Staff member
May 3, 2008
You may have already watched Bleeding Steel, the sci-fi thriller movie starring Jackie Chan,
but did you now that New South Wales funded the movie using unclaimed gambling winnings?

A few days ago, the New South Wales Government revealed the secret of giving unclaimed gambling winnings worth AU $850,000.00 in 2016 for the funding of the Jackie Chan movie Bleeding Steel.

The news struck the public with a shock since many had no idea that this type of thing is even possible anywhere in the world, not only in Australia. As it turns out, it is possible and it is feasible.

How Could This Happen?

The existing state law of New South Wales explicitly states that the local government has the right to use all unclaimed pokie winnings for community benefits. In fact, it is stated in the policies of the Department of Industry which is in charge of Liquor and Gaming that the unclaimed winnings should be given to the Secretary of the Department of Industry, which will transfer them to the Community Development Fund.

So far, over $3.34 million of unclaimed winnings were re-distributed to 52 projects by the Community Development Fund. However, the funding of the Jackie Chan movie was so far the largest one made for a single project, worth a quarter of the overall pool in NSW.

Although there were some opposing views due to the quantity of the fund, stating that it was too large, the Liquor and Gaming stated that the movie would provide tourism and economic benefits in both short and long-term, so they gave the money despite the campaigner's opposing views. One of the concerned parties that expressed disapproval was Greens MLC’s Justin Field who said that that amount of money could have been put to a better use, for other more genuine community projects or for providing a better support for gambling-related victims. Australia has the highest rate of gambling-related problems, with over $990.00 per citizen spent for gambling in 2016.

The Project

The grant for the Bleeding Steel movie was not subject to an open application process, but it was given to the Chinese video streaming giant YouKu after they applied through a local production services company to ask for financial help for shooting parts of the movie in Sydney.

The movie was set to star Australian actors Tess Haubrich, Callan Mulvey, and Kym Gyngell, so it was justifiable enough for the local government to do the research and the necessary analysis and examine whether such an investment is beneficial for the entire community, not just for the Australian actors. After thorough analysis, the decision was made. The movie did not meet the expectations on the artistic side, though, and there were actually comments that Chan has hit a new low with this movie.

Was the Project Profitable for the NSW Community?

The outcome of the project shows that Justin Field was wrong. The Liquor and Gaming spokesman shared with the public that the Jackie Chan project made the NSW economy a whopping AU $20 million. In addition to that, it gave 1,100 people, which were members of the staff, crew, cast, and extras, an opportunity to get a job that lasted several months.

In fact, the spokesman said that the government undertook a detailed cost-benefit analysis prior to funding the movie, and the results actually showed that the movie would give more than enough benefits for the community, both short and long-term, and that is why they have granted the funds.

Other Funds Made with Unclaimed Gambling Winnings by the Community Development Fund

Although many are not aware, the Community Development Fund has been giving away unclaimed gambling winnings to fund community projects since 2001. This is the year the Gaming Machines Act has taken effect, which states that the money can be spent as the Secretary considers appropriate.

So far, there are 52 community projects that were funded with unclaimed gambling winnings in NSW. The Million Dollar greyhound race series was given AU $500,000.00, while the Back to Tracks grant program received $400,000.00 to promote the event. In addition, over 30 grants were given across the state to improve war memorials.

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