Millions lost on gaming machines

By Jessica Micallef

Gamblers in Hume and the Macedon Ranges lost more than $121 million on gaming machines in the past financial year, new figures reveal.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation recently released gaming machine loss and expenditure data for the 2018-19 financial year, which revealed losses of nearly $2.7 billion across the state, an increase of $3.5 million on the previous year.

Hume gamblers lost $111,695,894 in the past financial year, up from $109,623,804 the previous year.

Macedon Ranges losses for the 2018-19 financial year were $9,594,189, up from $9,557,852.

Sunbury’s highest earning venue was the Royal Hotel, bringing in nearly $7 million, while Gisborne’s Castello’s Victorian Tavern made $5.5 million.

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesperson Tim Costello is calling on the state government to respond to gambling harm as a public health issue.

“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives via suicide,” he said.

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

“Pokies dens are designed to fleece people regardless of socio-economic background or geography, and especially target people who may be feeling isolated or lonely. That’s predatory behaviour.

“The royal commission into financial services exposed predatory behaviour in the banking industry and the community has rightly been up in the arms about it. Victorians should be shouting from the rooftops about how the poker machine industry preys on people and seek an end to this exploitation in their state.”

Gambling reform advocate Anna Bardsley said the results were disappointing.

“We have these reprehensible machines sucking money out of people, causing immense harm,” she said.

“Imagine how much stronger our economy would be if people spent $2.7 billion each year on goods and services in Victoria instead?”