Luck seems to be consistently evading the punters of Bendigo, Victoria. The latest data reveals that players from the region are losing more at pokies than a year prior. The period from 2018 to 2019 saw pokies losses increase by 2.5% from $50,005,104 to $51,218,482. This brings the loss to $1 million, the biggest upsurge in a decade.
Officials were blindsided by this news as efforts to combat problem gambling have been recently intensified by local authorities. Recent years have seen a number of pokies being frozen across the state. In addition, pokies have been limited in areas with higher levels of identified vulnerable players have seen their pokies limited, and restrictions being placed on cash withdrawals.
Bendigo’s 2019 gambling losses
The section below examines 11 gambling venues in the Greater Bendigo area and their losses recorded from July to December 2019.
- Bendigo District DSL – $4,497,386.03. The winning average, per-machine came to $48,359 on 93 pokies.
- Kangaroo Flat Sports Club – $1,150,982.95. The club’s pokies averaged $19,183
- Windemere Hotel – $3,443,838.94. 40 poker machines made an average of $86,096 apiece.
- Bendigo Stadium – $3,171,202.11. This sporting arena scored an average of $30,202 per machine.
- The All Seasons Hotel – $5,953,660.52. The venue’s 99 machines took an average of $60,138.
- The Bendigo Club – $1,452,749.29. The club’s machines earned an average of $24,212.
- The Foundry Hotel Complex – $1,011,013.19. Each poker machine earned an average of $40,441.
- Shamrock Hotel – $1,950,726.21. The pokies’ average earnings came in at $30,011.
- The Rising Sun Hotel – $1,865,571.57. The per-machine average was $53,302.
- The Borough Club – $1,497,975.14. The machines averaged $37,449.
- City Family Hotel – $823,027.32. The per-machine winning average was $21,103.
Greater Bendigo has a population of over 111,000 people. Bearing this in mind, the losses average out to $441 per resident. Most Bendigonians, however, don’t play pokies, so these losses are being absorbed by an unlucky few.
The challenging peculiarities of Online Gambling
Victoria’s push to address against problem gambling still has many hurdles to clear. The state has endorsed several restrictions against online gaming operators in 2019. Among the most notable are:
- Sports-betting providers are barred from marketing online services to customers. The sole exception applies where punters who want to play real money online pokies decide to opt-in to marketing of this type.
- Operators must streamline the processes punters have to follow to set limits or close their accounts.
- Websites are prohibited from offering vouchers, credit or other rewards to tempt punters into opening an account.
- Free money can only be awarded, under the condition that it’s can only be used to make wagers.
The above rules listed above form part of the National Consumer Protection Framework. Several years’ worth of effort and dedication went into this initiative which is squarely focused on reducing gambling harm within Victoria.
Costello chimes in
Tim Costello, chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform understandably had strong feelings regarding the gambling losses and wasted no time in making them known.
He characterized pokies as a “blight” on Bendigo, adding, “Poker machines are designed to be deliberately addictive.”
“Poker machines are an effective drain on local economies. We know that a substantial percentage of those losses come from people experiencing gambling harm and that gambling harm is often at its worst in areas that can least afford the losses.”
Costello laid out his suggested solutions to remedy the problem:
- Do away with losses masquerading as wins.
- Introduce regulations to limit the spin rate of pokies.
- Reduce the maximum per-spin wager limit from $5 to $1.
- Cut business hours for places offering pokies.