According to new figures released, gamblers in the Macedon Ranges and Hume lost over AU$121 million on gambling machines over the past fiscal year.
Recently, the state’s gambling regulator – the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) – released its latest statistics regarding customers’ losses and expenditure for the 2018-19 financial year. According to the data unveiled, the losses of local residents amounted to approximately AU$2.7 billion, with the figure representing an increase of AU$3.5 million in the previous year. This is a 0.13% increase on poker machine losses recorded for 2017/18, which might look insignificant but it actually translates in approximately AU$3.5 million.
Now, the latest figures revealed that gamblers in Hume lost an overall of AU$111,695,894 in the past fiscal year. Their losses faced an increase from AU$109,623,804 in the 2017/18 year. On the other hand, there was also an increase in the losses generated by Macedon Ranges residents from AU9,557,852 in the 2017/18 to AU$9,594,189 over the last fiscal year.
As the latest data showed, the highest-earning venue in Sunbury was the Royal Hotel, which brought almost AU$7 million. In comparison, the Gisborne’s Castello’s Victorian Tavern generated a total of AU$5.5 million.
Tim Costello from Alliance for Gambling Reform Calls for Stricter Pokie Regulation and Policy
For quite some time now, the spokesman of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, has been calling for the state Government to consider gambling harm as a public health issue. Mr Costello has been claiming that in some extreme cases, the electronic gambling machines, also known as “poker machines” or “pokies” could cause suicide, as well as the loss of jobs, homes, family and relationship break-ups, etc.
According to the Alliance for Gambling Reform’s spokesman, establishments which offer poker machines are specially designed to fascinate visitors and make them place more and more bets on the terminals, regardless of their socio-economic background. He further noted that pokie dens target people who may be feeling lonely or isolated and described that as a “predatory behaviour”.
Mr Costello shared that the royal commission into financial services exposed these establishments’ predatory behaviour in the banking industry and the local community has been vigorously protesting against it. According to him, the residents of Victoria should be more proactive when it comes to protesting against the possible negative consequences which could be caused by poker machines to the community and its people so that further exploitation is prevented.
According to Anna Bardsley, a gambling reform supporter, the results were disappointing, because the harmful machines were still permitted to operate on the territory of Victoria. Ms Bardsley also noted that without the pokies and their negative impact on the communities, the AU$2.7 billion spent on the machines on an annual basis could be spent on a variety of services and goods across the state instead.