Wed, Aug 7, 8:03am by Staff Writer
More money was lost on gaming machines in Brimbank in the past financial year than anywhere else in Victoria.
The Star Weekly is reporting the latest data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation that shows that $142.9 million was lost at Brimbank’s 15 gaming venues in 2018-19.
The next highest loss was in Casey, where $132.4 million was lost on machines.
Brimbank’s gaming losses have risen from $139.5 million in 2017-18.
The Kealba Hotel ranked fourth in the state for the highest amount lost to poker machines, with $19.2 million lost in 2018-19.
Brimbank mayor Lucinda Congreve said it was frustrating that the council had next to no say over gaming machines, with the industry regulated by the state and federal government.
She said Brimbank has recorded the highest gaming losses in the state for a number of years.
“To hear that people from Brimbank are losing $391,518 a day on pokies is horrifying,” Cr Congreve said.
“Our city cannot sustain these losses.
“Poker machine addiction needs to be recognised as a public health risk and urgent reforms are needed to address this.”
In May, the council adopted an electronic gambling policy, which aims to reduce the economic, social and health harm associated with poker machines.
As part of the policy, the council would not allow new poker machines on council-owned land.
It is also advocating for a reduction to the number of poker machines allowed in Brimbank.
Currently, state government legislation allows for 953 machines in the municipality.
Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello said poker machines were contributing to much more than loss of money in Brimbank.
“In extreme cases, poker machines can cause the loss of lives due to suicide,” he said.
“There is the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and much more due to gambling harm.
“Brimbank residents should be shouting from the rooftops about how the poker machine industry preys on people living in their municipality and seek an end to this exploitation,” he said.
— BrimbankCityCouncil (@BrimbankCouncil) July 29, 2019
The Melbourne Storm is the latest professional sporting organisation to divest themselves from gaming interests after the club sold its poker machines.
The National Rugby League is a sport that is underpinned by gaming revenue, with the Storm looking to break the mould of clubs north of the border that rely on the income for survival.
Victoria’s only NRL club is privately owned by a conglomerate including caravan magnate Gerry Ryan and bookmaker Matt Tripp.
The group sold the Kealba Hotel in Melbourne’s north-west, including its 172 poker machine licenses to IPR Hotels last month.
The hotel in St Albans was the only Storm-related pokies holding and is a site where punters lost the fourth-highest amount of money out of nearly 500 venues in Victoria. Losses at the venue neared A$20 million in 2018.
The Victorian government’s gambling regulator has indicated that poker machine licenses are valued at approximately A$13 million.
The sale of the license and the hotel points to a significant windfall for the 2018 NRL Grand Finalist’s, who purchased the venue for A$10 million in 2015.
The Kealba Hotel is within the Brimbank local government area,, which last year recorded the highest pokies losses in the state.
The A$140 million loss figure is a state record.
The Kealba Hotel and pokie machine sell-off has been welcomed by gambling reform advocates.
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