Tue, Feb 5, 12:12pm by Staff Writer
New statistics from the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation reveal that the Wimmera region in Victoria’s west is experiencing a rise in gaming expenditure.
The Horsham Rural City Council local government area’s total expenditure in the last six month of 2018 was more than A$5 million at A$5,209,336.
This was an increase on the previous first six months of 2018, with losses amounting to A$4,582,920.
The majority of the losses came at the Horsham Sports and Community Club, which has 83 electronic gaming machines.
The club took in more than A$3 million in the first half of 2018 alone.
The Horsham Sports and Community Club’s manager Glenn Carroll said 100 per cent of its profits form the machines, after normal trading, went back into the community through its grants program.
“There is an opportunity for people to self exclude themselves from the venue if they have a problem with gambling. There is also a voluntary system people can sign up for which helps them keep track of their time and money spent on the machines,” Mr Carroll said.
There was A$1,180,343 spent at the Horsham RSL and A$1,019,528 at West Side Horsham.
The Horsham RSL has 36 gaming machines, with West Side having 34 machines.
Total expenditure in the Horsham region during 2018 spiked to nearly A$9.8 million, a A$300,000 rise on figures from 2017.
The Northern Grampians region experienced a similar rise, with its loss figure in 2018 totalling A$9.5 million.
The mayor of the Northern Grampians Shire Kevin Erwin said his council was supportive of state government measures to attempt to reduce gambling losses and addiction.
“We are really supportive of the whole gamble responsibly message,” he said.
“We recognise gambling can be a problem in the community. Anything in moderation is OK I suppose, but the whole idea of gambling responsibly is really important.”
Grampians Community Health counselling program leader Jemima Bibby said problem gambling was “beyond money”.
“The consequences can include the breakdown in relationship reduce self-esteem that can impact the ability to work or study, this can cause anxiety, depression and suicide,” she said.
“Despite the fact that most people believe that it is the individual’s issue, it also affects their significant others, and the other side of it is that substance use and gambling often occur together,” Ms Bibby told The Stawell Times.
The Wimmera is not alone in experiencing increased gambling losses in 2018.
Punters in Bendigo are losing A$50 million a year to poker machines according to new electronic gaming machine figures released.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has revealed that the townships across Victoria are recording unprecedented gambling losses on poker machines.
The group’s director Tim Costello said Victorians had their biggest annual increase in poker machine losses in a decade.
The Greater Bendigo region’s losses spiked by A$1.8 million in 2018, he said, following a ‘reckless’ decision by the government to issue new 20 year pokies licenses.
“It was the biggest Bendigo venue, the All Seasons International Hotel, which was responsible for the largest jump as it increased pokies losses from A$10.45 million in 2017 to $11.26 million in 2018, a gain of eight per cent,” Mr Costello said.
The All Seasons had the fourth highest losses of any non-metropolitan venue, behind Zagame’s Ballarat Hotel, The Mildura Gateway Tavern and Geelong’s Grovedale Hotel.
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The Victorian gaming and liquor regulation minister Marlene Kairouz fired back, saying that the state government has introduced reforms to help reduce harm from pokies.
“We know how insidious problem gambling be,” Ms Kairouz said.
“That’s why we’re helping those who choose to gamble stick to their limits,” she said.
The government has frozen pokies numbers across the state, limited daily cash withdrawals in venues and capped the number of pokies in areas most vulnerable.
Bendigo gamblers lost A$26,271.618 at 11 venues in the last six months of 2018, nearly A$700,000 more than the same period in 2017.
The Central Goldfields Shire recorded an unusual decline in poker machine revenue, with a $173,493 decrease noted.
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