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Punters in Casey spend more than $130m last year

Thu, Aug 1, 8:16am by Staff Writer

Gamblers in the district of Casey in Victoria lost $132.4 million in the last financial year – prompting calls from critics to “outlaw the predatory and addictive features” of poker machines.

Star News is reporting the figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation show Casey took out the accolade for the second highest pokies losses in the state – equal to $524 for every adult.

Of the 13 venues in Casey, the Berwick Springs Hotel ranked second in Victoria, taking $19.7 million.

Hampton Park Tavern was also in the top 10 and had the largest increase in player losses, raking in $1.3 million more than the previous year.

Punters also forked out $6.6 million at Amstel Golf Club, $12.9 million at Fountain Gate Taverner and $8.2 million at Trio Sports Club in Cranbourne.

Cranbourne Information and Support Services’ executive officer Leanne Petrides said gambling had devastating effects on families seeking their help.

“We see a number of people attending our service for counselling and financial counselling who have lost so much due tog ambling on the pokies, including their relationships and, in some cases, their homes,” she said.

“We are also working with an increasing number of children and young people who are addicted to gaming.”

Casey acting director of city planning and infrastructure Duncan Turner said council had been advocating for the state government to extend a cap on the number of electronic gaming machines for the whole municipality.

“Council remains concerned about gambling losses being experienced by Casey residents, particularly given many are from vulnerable communities already experiencing relatively high levels of socio-economic disadvantage,” Mr Turner said.

“A city-wide cap would provide certainty to the remaining parts of Casey to keep the electronic gaming machine density consistent across the municipality.”

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman, the Reverend Tim Costello said poker machines led to the loss of much more than money in the Casey community.

“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives due to suicide,” Rev Costello said.

“Then there is the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and much more due to gambling harm.”

“We call on the Victorian government to outlaw the predatory and addictive features on poker machines that trick people into believing they are winning when they are actually losing money,” he said.

Bad Bets Australia spokesman Rowan Wenn said the gambling industry was deliberately “set up” to take money from the vulnerable who sought an “escape” in pokies machines.

Illawarra residents spend up at pokies

The pokies losses aren’t isolated to Victoria, with venues in New South Wales also raking it in.

Wollongong and Shellharbour poker machines have seen more than $106 million from residents in just six months according to the latest figures.

The Mercury reported in May the figures from the New South Wales department of Liquor and Gaming, which show that pokies in the Wollongong local government area collected $84.9 million form July to December last year – more than $62.5 million of it from licensed clubs.

Shellharbour punters contributed $21.5 million to the total, which would be significantly higher but for the fact that poker machines in those hotels were missing from last Wednesday’s figures.

Wollongong’s 2472 club-based poker machines made the near $63 million profit in six months, making the city the seventh biggest losers in the state.

This meant a profit of $28,033 for each machine in the region, a loss of $417 for the half-year for everyone in the city.

Shellharbour punters losses came on 761 machines in clubs.

In terms of total dollars spent, the Illawarra’s most profitable was the Shellharbour Workers’ Club, which has 264 machines and ranked as the 42nd most profitable in the state.

It was followed by West Illawarra (ranked 51st), Collegians Wollongong (56th) and Dapto Leagues Club (59th).

Dapto Leagues led the region in profit-per-machine.

The most profitable hotels were Warrawong’s Open Hearth, Berkley Hotel and Corrimal Hotel, which produced the best per-machine result of Wollongong pubs.

Out-gaining all regions were the machines in Canterbury-Bankstown and Fairfield, which returned profits of $288.5 million and $265 million respectively – the lions share coming from the cities’ licenced clubs.

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