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Gaming Losses a Concern for Melbourne’s Hume City Council

Thu, Dec 13, 11:20am by Staff Writer

Hume City Council, located in the north of Metropolitan Melbourne, has expressed concern over the level of gaming machine losses within the municipality during the current financial year.

Current year to date data issued by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor regulation has revealed over $38 million lost within the council in between July and October this year.

Losses for the 2018-19 financial year to date for each month show losses of $9,985,140 in July, $10,062,249 in August, $9,375,516 in September and $9,466,024 in October, a total of $38,888,929, which covers 14 gaming venues housing 833 electronic gaming machines (EGMs) within the municipality.

In months July to October in 2017, the level of losses for the region was $37,365,698, illustrating a 4% increase in losses to gamblers within the council’s venues.

Hume mayor Carly Moore expressed to the Star Weekly that recent data is of a concern for the area.

“The recent data on losses show a worrying trend of pokie machine losses across Hume city and it is also concerning to see the potential impact of the state government’s new legislation for 20 year licences that was passed last year” she said.

“Hume has a regional cap of 851 pokies entitlements and council remains committed to raising our communities’ awareness of the potential harms associated with gambling.

“Council will continue to work with the state government to see that the harm for gambling is minimised, especially within our most vulnerable communities.”

City of Whittlesea experiencing similar rises in gaming losses

Neighbouring municipality the City of Whittlesea also show concerning figures with losses of over $10 million for each of the first four months in the current financial year and with 781 EGMs across 12 venues.

The $42,223,594 lost by gamblers in the Whittlesea council between July and October this year is 8.6% greater than the City of Hume and is 5% greater than the $40,176,916 lost in the council’s venues for the same time last year.

Four of the top 11 venues for poker machine losses are in the City of Whittlesea.

The Whittlesea council last month won a bid in the Supreme Court to prevent 40 machines being installed at the Commercial Hotel in South Morang.

Following the decision, council mayor Lawrie Cox told the Whittlesea Leader “Whittlesea’s dire addiction to poker machines needed to be stopped because gambling was linked to high levels of mortgage stress, family violence, crime and family breakdowns.”

The win in the Supreme Court has also coincided with the recent Pokies Play Whittlesea campaign, who have been calling for a crackdown on access to poker machines within the municipality.

Record losses set for 2018-19 financial year

Whilst poker machine venue operators might be quietly celebrating increased revenue, Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello said the commission’s data indicates Victoria looks set to be headed for record pokies losses in the 2018-19 financial year.

He told the Star Weekly “increased losses mean rising harm, family violence, suicide, financial hardship and crime, which is particularly disturbing when you consider it is often our most vulnerable communities who are being exploited by poker machines.”

Looking at Melbourne metropolitan and country Victoria gaming machine expenditure over the past three financial years, highlights a worrying trend for the state.

In Melbourne’s metropolitan region, expenditure by gamblers in years 2015/16 and 2016/17 were relatively similar with $2.058 billion in 2015/16 and $2.046 billion in 2016/17. However this soared to $2.112 billion in 2017/18.

In country Victoria, it has shifted from $558 million in 2015/16, $562 million in 2016/17 to nearly $583 million in 2017/18.

For both regions, the jump in gaming machine expenditure has been dramatic.

Given the data illustrated within both the Hume City Council and City of Whittlesea, the 2018/19 financial year looks set to result in statewide numbers for gaming machine expenditure exceeding 2017/18.

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