Wed, Jan 30, 1:32pm by Staff Writer
Punters in Bendigo are losing A$50 million a year to poker machines according to new electronic gaming machine figures released.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has revealed that the townships across Victoria are recording unprecedented gambling losses on poker machines.
The group’s director Tim Costello said Victorians had their biggest annual increase in poker machine losses in a decade.
The Greater Bendigo region’s losses spiked by A$1.8 million in 2018, he said, following a ‘reckless’ decision by the government to issue new 20 year pokies licenses.
“It was the biggest Bendigo venue, the All Seasons International Hotel, which was responsible for the largest jump as it increased pokies losses from A$10.45 million in 2017 to $11.26 million in 2018, a gain of eight per cent,” Mr Costello said.
The All Seasons had the fourth highest losses of any non-metropolitan venue, behind Zagame’s Ballarat Hotel, The Mildura Gateway Tavern and Geelong’s Grovedale Hotel.
— Fairfax Regional (@FairfaxRegional) January 29, 2019
The Victorian gaming and liquor regulation minister Marlene Kairouz fired back, saying that the state government has introduced reforms to help reduce harm from pokies.
“We know how insidious problem gambling be,” Ms Kairouz said.
“That’s why we’re helping those who choose to gamble stick to their limits,” she said.
The government has frozen pokies numbers across the state, limited daily cash withdrawals in venues and capped the number of pokies in areas most vulnerable.
Bendigo gamblers lost A$26,271.618 at 11 venues in the last six months of 2018, nearly A$700,000 more than the same period in 2017.
The Central Goldfields Shire recorded an unusual decline in poker machine revenue, with a $173,493 decrease noted.
Victorian’s lost a record A$2.7 billion on poker machines in 2018, a rise of A$103 million form the previous year.
The six-monthly revenue loss data was released last Friday by the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation.
According to The Guardian, it revealed that the Epping Plaza Hotel in Melbourne is the venue where people lost the most money.
The council area where people lost the most to pokies was Brimbank, about 20km west of Melbourne, which became the first Victorian council to exceed A$140 million a year in losses.
August was the month that Victorian gamblers lost the most to pokies, surrendering A$246 million, the second largest loss in a month on record.
There have been renewed calls to introduce a minimum bet limit across Australia’s bookies, forcing agencies to accept bets up to a certain minimum winning amount.
Some racing codes and states have already implemented minimum bet rules, but they are not yet universal.
The push comes after ABC News revealed that a number of winning punters were having their online bets rejected.
The issue has drawn the ire of Dr Anna Thomas, co-author of a report for the Federal Government in 2017 into betting restrictions and online wagering in Australia.
Dr Thomas has published works that show that people who were blocked from betting with Australian agencies would turn to illegal offshore operators.
“First, there are control and protection issues related to under- or un-regulated offshore sites in terms of adequate consumer protections, the potential for fraud, money laundering and sporting integrity issues,” the report said.
“Second, there is the issue of loss of revenue to governments and sporting bodies through taxes, license and product fees and to Australian businesses through loss of customers.”
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