Pokie generated revenue in Victoria rises by $43 Million
According to data released recently by the Victoria Government, residents of the state spent nearly $2.6 billion while playing pokie machines during the last 12 months.
This figure represents an increase of$43 million compared to the same 12-month period spanning July 2014 through July 2015.
In specific terms, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) reports that the Dandenong, Geelong, and Whittlesea regions each contributed AUD$100 million per year on the pokies.
Pokie revenue in Victoria has climbed steadily since 2012 – the year that the duopoly over pokie operation held by Tabcorp Holdings and Tatts Group was officially ended by the state government.
After 2012, individual pubs and clubs were permitted to hold their own pokie operator licenses, effectively shifting control over a particularly lucrative segment of the gambling industry – and approximately 26,000 pokie machines – to local enterprises.
Speaking with ABC News, Dr. Charles Livingstone – a noted gambling researcher at Monash University – pointed to the aggressive marketing strategies put in place by pub and club owners as being responsible for the rising revenue:
“In Victoria, both the Liberal and Labor parties have introduced harm minimisation policies, which have had good effect, have seen a reduction in the losses, and they’ve capped machine numbers and so on.
“And all of those have been good. Unfortunately, the operators have now worked out how to start increasing the revenue again.”
This marks the third consecutive year that Victorian punters have spent more than $2.5 billion on pokie play.
The Victorian Government traditionally relies on pokie generated tax revenue to account for approximately $1 billion of its overall annual budget. This figure represents 9.3 percent of the state’s budget for 2015-2016, while government-issued projections estimate that pokie tax revenues will make up 8.85 percent of the budget in 2016-2017.
Critics contend that Victoria’s private pokie operators are willfully targeting low-income regions throughout the state in an effort to increase revenue.
Dr. Livingstone summed up the situation thusly during an interview with ABC News:
“Research has shown that pokies are placed disproportionally in areas of disadvantage and social stress. Unfortunately, people in those areas tend to seek refuge from their stresses by using machines.
“And of course the companies that operate them are clever enough to work out where they’re going to make the money, and that’s where they put the machine.”
Marlene Kairouz, who serves as the Andrew’s Ministry’s Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, refuted Dr. Livingstone’s assertions in no uncertain terms:
“Whilst gambling is a legitimate industry, we recognise and take seriously the harm caused by problem gambling. We have invested $148 million over the next four years to support problem gambling service providers and the YourPlay scheme.
“We will continue to take an evidenced based approach to addressing the harm caused by problem gambling.”
Victoria launched a statewide ‘pre-commitment’ system in December of last year, with punters who identify themselves as being at risk for problem gambling voluntarily registering for the YourPlay program. As of May, only 8,130 residents had elected to participate actively in YourPlay.