Thu, Sep 17, 8:53am by Noah Taylor
An American woman has won a massive poker machine jackpot.
WMC Action reports a Mississippi woman has won $1.235 million at a Wheel of Fortune machine at the state’s Golden Moon Casino.
The Kosciusko native was stunned to see the prize.
“When I won, I didn’t realise that it was as much as it was and it still doesn’t seem real,” she said.
“My husband was with me and he was so excited and was jumping up and down. He told me that I just don’t know how life changing this is for us.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into poker machines as Australians have emerged from COVID-19 enforced lockdowns.
News.com.au reported in early September that pubs and clubs across Queensland raked in almost $300 million July alone, despite social distancing restrictions drastically reducing the number of patrons allowed inside at one time.
It was the Sunshine State’s biggest monthly spend on gaming machines in the past three years and came as soon as the state government eased coronavirus measures.
Punters in New South Wales also spent big when they emerged from lockdown, losing more than $571 million in June, up more than $40 million on the same period last year.
Tasmania’s 520,000 residents spent a whopping $19 million on pokies per capita in July, $5 million more than was offloaded in February and equating to more than $612,000 a day.
Gamblers in South Australia drained their wallets of more than $73 million in the same month, compared to $62 million in 2019.
Victoria remains in lockdown, but more than six million people spent $235 million on poker machines in July 2019.
Gaming machines are only permitted in casinos in Western Australia.
— Nathan Johnson (@ExecutiveHostLV) September 16, 2020
Alliance for Gambling Reform advocate Anna Bardsley said the figures highlighted a concerning upward trend.
“The money that wasn’t lost in those few months when lockdown was on instead went to small businesses, it went to supermarkets, it went to putting food on the table,” she said.
Ms Bardsley said while lockdown has helped some people break the cycle of addiction, it wasn’t enough for most.
“I know from my own experience it took longer than a few months to rewire my brain.” She said.
“I will literally not give poker machines another dollar, but the recovery has been long and hard.”
A Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation spokeswoman said it worked with industry and gaming help services in the lead-up to pubs and clubs reopening, to ensure those at heightened risk had support.
“This included the option for patrons who may want to continue their break from in-venue gambling to exclude from a venue, or multiple venues, through a gambling help service, without physically attending a venue,” she said.
However, OLGR confirmed the amount of money put through poker machines was 32 per cent higher than the same time last year.
OLGR continues to monitor these figures closely while engaging with industry and gambling help services to monitor any potential increase in gaming-related harm, to ensure suitable support options are available,” the spokeswoman said.
Star Entertainment has reached an agreement with the New South Wales government to set the casino tax rates from 2022 until 2041.
Share Cafe reported in June that Star Entertainment is to remain the sole casino with pokies machines in New South Wales during this time, unless compensated.
Credit Suisse suggests this is positive for the company’s earnings.
The casino group hasn’t let the coronavirus pandemic dampen its project pipeline.
Casino Aus reports that the company executed its funding agreements with its project partners, securing $1.6 billion in debt funding, the first of it to be used next month.
The Star did this in joint partnership with David Chiu’s Far East Consortium and Henry Cheong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises.
The terms of the agreement were determined prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, which means the financials and terms reflect the market conditions at the time.
All necessary conditions for the funding, including the final approval of the Queensland government, should be completed next month.
Once complete, the joint partnership will take the first draw-down on the finding, the rest remaining for construction that is set to begin in early 2021.
In total, the group’s funding is a 5.5-year agreement with three years of operations allowed before refinancing.
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