Victoria has hit a new high-water mark. Unfortunately, the distinction is tainted by the fact that the milestone concerns poker machine losses. Victorians spent $251 million on pokies in December 2021, according to new figures.
The previous high-water mark for pokie losses was $250 million. It began in December 2008, when citizens received stimulus payments as a result of the global financial crisis. It didn’t take them long to haul their windfall down to the pub, as is customary in Australia.
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This information is gathered by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission from all around the state. The results are always interesting, but they also have a habit of being shocking.
For example, the month of January 2022 saw $224 million in pokie losses across the state. While this is a $27 million decrease from the previous month, there is still cause for concern. That’s because COVID was raging in January, indicating that even a pandemic wouldn’t deter Victorian gamblers.
Worse, the majority of the poker machine losses were in underserved communities. “Disadvantaged” refers to income, employment, and education, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. To put it another way, the poorest and least educated Victorians have a proclivity for gambling.
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Over the last three months, five local government areas (or LGAs) accounted for 25.81 percent of pokie losses. They are also among the most underprivileged, as previously stated.
- Greater Dandenong
Brimbank: A Closer Look
Brimbank, one of the state’s most disadvantaged LVAs, came out on top in terms of pokie losses. During the month of December, the neighbourhood lost about $15 million. Between November and January, that figure increased to $42 million.
Brimbank has seen the highest number of COVID deaths since December. Despite this, many locals were eager to return to the taverns and clubs.
Brimbank has a median household income of $1263 per week, according to census data. For a single person, that figure reduces to $487 each week. If you’re curious, the state average for individuals is $644 and for households is $1419.
In the meantime, in Melton
Despite not being among the top five in terms of losses, Melton managed to lose $6.5 million in January. Its pubs and clubs are also taking in more money than they were before the outbreak.
In November of last year, gamblers lost $5.6 million. In November of 2021, that amount increased to an all-time high, with losses of $7.1 on electronic gambling machines.
Melton had four gaming establishments and 247 slot machines in 2005. Seventeen years later, those numbers have increased to 523 machines and seven venues.
The Debate Goes On
Last year, Victoria announced that the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gaming Regulation would be restructured. This is intended to provide the organisation more control over harm reduction measures.
Meanwhile, pro-gambling proponents believe that people should be able to spend their money as they want. Some argue that basic protections are necessary, but that too many laws detract from the gambling’s inherent pleasure.
On the other hand, there are groups like the Alliance for Gambling Reform. They, along with a number of others, want the industry to be subjected to more controls. Changes that have been suggested include:
- Universal pre-commitment
- Doing away with losses disguised as wins
- Reduced business hours
- Gambling education campaigns
- Limits on wagers and jackpots