Wed, Dec 5, 10:43am by Staff Writer
Pokies players in the city of Hume located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have been incurring significant losses over the past financial year.
The council, which is considered one of Victoria and Australia’s fastest growing and culturally diverse municipalities has over 198,000 residents in it’s locality.
According to the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, over $109 million has been spent on pokies in the last year across the 14 venues with pokies within the city of Hume.
With pokie machines being a financial drain for many within Victoria, gaming venues have been a focus by the major political parties at the recent state election. However, both major parties, Labor and Liberal had stopped short of saying they wish to abolish poker machines.
However, the Victoria Greens have stated that phasing out poker machines is a priority with party leader Dr Samantha Ratnam stating that the state’s addiction to the machines would be a saving in the long run given the government won’t need to pay for services relating to servicing communities broken due to gambling debts.
The city of Hume ranks as the 6th highest pokies expenditure in Victoria with a spend of $300,339 per day, according to the Herald Sun.
The councils with a greater spend per day are Brimbank ($382,212), Casey ($360,313), Greater Dandenong ($332,658), Greater Geelong ($321,974) and Monash ($306,691).
One of Hume’s neighbouring municipalities, the City of Whittlesea ranks 7th at $299,939 per day, further highlighting the gambling issues within the northern metropolitan region of the state.
Whilst the City of Hume may rank at number 13 in the ranking of Victoria for socio-economic disadvantage, it actually ranks 3rd for municipalities within Melbourne’s metropolitan region, behind Greater Dandenong (2nd) and Brimbank (3rd).
Our billboard visited City of Hume today where residents lose a staggering 300k a day on the pokies. Great to get support from 3 female councillors, Jodi Jackson, Karen Sherry and mayor Carly Moore (left to right). pic.twitter.com/jHfN6pff9X
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) November 20, 2018
Locations that have been identified as pokies hotspots within the municipality include the Gladstone Park Hotel, Roxburgh Park Hotel, Sylvania Hotel, Highlands Hotel and the Meadow Inn Hotel.
The Hume municipality is centered around major suburbs Broadmeadows and Tullamarine, which is home to the Melbourne Airport and is also the training base for Australian Football League club the Essendon Bombers.
The municipality’s growth in recent years has come from it’s northern corridor with a significant surge in population coming from Craigieburn due to its residential housing developments, Roxburgh Park and Greenvale.
Hume is now home to residents that come from more than 160 different countries that speak approximately 140 languages. The council is neighboured by both metropolitan and regional municipalities given it covers and extensive level of territory, being 504 square kilometres.
With a regional cap of 851 poker machine entitlements, as of 31 December 2017 there were 803 machines operating within the Hume City Council.
In reference to poker machines and the recent state election, Alliance for Gambling Reform director Tim Costello stated that ‘poker machines are a con and are designed to addict vulnerable people so it should come as no surprise that seats such as Broadmeadows suffer losses which are five times greater than more affluent seats, such as Kew and Warrandyte.’
Despite Mr Costello’s assertions of poker machines being a ‘con’, they are certainly a significant source of income for venues housing these machines.
Gambling reforms may provide a dent in the revenue generating capacity for gaming venues but with significant losses being incurred by residents within Hume and the wider Victorian community, pressure may be further intensified by parties and organisations such as the Greens and the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
With a significant population and high pokie machine spend that is considered to be lower socio-economic to the majority of metropolitan Melbourne, the spotlight on pokie machines is expected to continue for the City of Hume.
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