Warrnambool poker machine losses rise

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Warrnambool poker machine losses rise

Poker machine use in Warrnambool continues to rise within the region.

In August, $1,801,202 was poured into poker machines in Warrnambool, an increase from $1,692,545 during the same time last year.

Charity organisations have been working hard to assist those affected by gambling however it hasn’t seemed to have an impact on the spending on pokies within the area.

Speaking to the Warrnambool Standard, former Warrnambool City councillor John Harris said he believed there was a correlation between the increasing number of people experiencing financial hardship and the rise in gambling spend.

“I’m not telling people they can’t play the pokies, it’s just a shame all this money is going out of Warrnambool when there are all these families in need” he said.

With Gambling Harm Awareness Week taking place this week until October 13, the August rise in gambling spend is a timely reminder for the community.

Shane Lucas, chief executive of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation told the Warrnambool Standard “gambling can affect your self-esteem, your relationships, your physical and mental health, work performance and social life.

“It can harm not only the gambler, but also your family, friends, workplaces and communities” he said.

The release of the statistics come after the implmentation of a $500 spending cap for residents within South-Western Victoria thanks to new legislation aimed at reducing the negative affects of gambling.

As of September 19, gaming venues have limited the amount of cash patrons are able access within a 24-hour period.

These changes include a $500 limit on any debit or credit card within a 24-hour period, cash access limited to an EFTPOS facility operated by an employee of the venue only, a $200 limit on EFTPOS transactions, and the introduction of a no cash advance and no cheque policy.

Macey’s Bistro owner Peter ‘Cork’ Walsh told the Warrnambool Standard, few patrons at his central Warrnambool venue would be impacted by the new restrictions.

“All our terminals have been calibrated ready for the changes,” he said.

“We got new monitors installed last week and we can’t wait for the changes and to see how it all pans out.

“There’s only a small percentage who access more than $500.

“Most play with their $100 or $200 and once that’s gone they head off.”

Regulator getting tough on non-compliance

Failure to comply with the new changes could lead to extensive fines and licences being revoked by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR).

Held from 7–13 October 2019, Gambling Harm Awareness Week is designed to encourage community discussions about why gambling harm matters. Harm from gambling extends to self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life. It can harm not only the person who gambles but also family, friends, workplaces and communities.

Anyone who gambles or knows someone who gambles may be at potential risk of gambling harm. Harm from gambling starts earlier and occurs more frequently than people may believe.

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Hidden Harm Paper released in 2017 shows that 85 percent of harm from gambling is among low- and moderate-risk gamblers.

The Warrnambool area have events attached to Gambling Harm Awareness Week, with South West Healthcare welcoming anyone to join them for coffee and cake stand at Civic Green during the week.

Counsellors will be available to speak to anyone about gambling harm and encourage behavioural activation and seeking alternative recreational activities.

There are more than 50 community events held across the state. Tomorrow, the foundation will be hosting a workshop in Bendigo, focused on sharing research along with local knowledge and experience, and encouraging collaboration in the community.

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