Mon, Jan 28, 1:01pm by Staff Writer
Victorian’s lost a record A$2.7 billion on poker machines in 2018, a rise of A$103 million form the previous year.
The six-monthly revenue loss data was released last Friday by the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation.
According to The Guardian, it revealed that the Epping Plaza Hotel in Melbourne is the venue where people lost the most money.
The council area where people lost the most to pokies was Brimbank, about 20km west of Melbourne, which became the first Victorian council to exceed A$140 million a year in losses.
August was the month that Victorian gamblers lost the most to pokies, surrendering A$246 million, the second largest loss in a month on record.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform director, Tim Costello, said the major political parties needed to introduce $1 maximum bets and less addictive machine designs, as well as reduce operating hours.
Introducing a maximum bet on poker machines has already taken place in the United Kingdom, where the maximum stake has dropped from £100 to £2 recently.
“It has now been 14 months since the Victorian parliament passed legislation issuing new 20 years pokies licenses and Victorians have suffered the biggest losses in history over that period,” Costello said.
“The major parties should be ashamed of themselves for working together to increase losses at a time when the community is calling for political leaders to tackle Australia’s world record level of gambling losses,” he said.
Australia’s biggest pokies operator, ALH/Woolworths, accounted for $700 million of Victoria’s losses and owns 12,000 poker machines across Australia.
Australia’s gambling losses are part of a broader problem, with the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office releasing a report showing that Australians wager more than any other nationality.
The report showed that Aussies wagered $210 billion in 2016 and 2017 alone.
Some international coverage of Victoria's record pokies losses in calendar 2018, after the $100m+ increase on the 2017 figure: https://t.co/xVi5Rqen90
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) January 26, 2019
That was an increase of 0.7 per cent compared to the previous period studied.
The gambling losses of Australian’s far exceed the second-ranked nation in Singapore, with residents losing $1,251 per person.
The largest increases in gambling losses during the study period came from sports and racing betting.
Sports betting losses rose 15 per cent and racing by seven per cent.
The growth of mobile gaming has played a significant role in the increasing amount bet. The ease of placing a bet through a mobile device has made gambling a normal part of everyday life.
Gambling advertising also plays a role, with widespread campaigns targeting young people and glamourising gambling.
They enlist the help of celebrities and major sports teams to promote their offerings.
Even the large sporting organisations in Australia such as Cricket Australia, the AFL and NRL are sponsored by gambling organisations.
Record losses aren’t just happening in Victoria though.
In the northern state of Queensland, A$2.36 billion was lost in poker machines alone in 2018.
Across the state, that equates to $270,000 every hour in pubs and clubs alone.
The figure does not include money taken through pokies within casinos, which are not required to break down their revenue for the public.
Despite the number of poker machines in the state remaining steady, the money they collect is climbing in the state.
According to 9 News, in the past 12 months, A$530 million was lost in Brisbane, with another $336 million splurged on the Gold Coast.
Regional centres were not immune from pokies losses either, with A$164 lost in Logan and $A95 million in Ipswich.
The Queensland state government takes up to a 35 per cent tax from pokies profit, with neither major party committed to reducing the number of poker machines in the state.
Queensland has not been far from the spotlight in recent times when it comes to casinos and poker machines.
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