Whittlesea venues lead Victoria in pokie losses
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation recently revealed data regarding the venues in the state with the highest levels of pokie losses from 2019 to 2020. The town of Whittlesea claimed the unfortunate recognition of having four of its establishments featuring in the top 10.
The Epping Plaza Hotel occupied the first spot on the list, its players lost $15.29 million on poker machines during the 2019/2020 financial year. Mill Park’s Plough Hotel was second, with its pokies claiming $15.04 million over the same period.
Excelsior Hotel and Bundoora Taverner are both Whittlesea venues that also made the list with the former raking in $13.12 million via pokies, while the latter took $12.87 million from players.
Pokie spend per day
The report broke down the data in several aspects, including a per-city ranking of daily expenditure on poker machines. Whittlesea didn’t claim the top spot but still managed to break the top 10. Here they are in descending order.
Greater Geelong ($326,219) This city boasts the largest number of venues with pokies and most overall pokies on the list.
Greater Dandenong ($326,882)
A matter of concern
While some may have seen Whittlesea’s high place on the rankings as something to be proud of, others were troubled by the news. The Whittlesea City Council has recommended changes to the pokie industry before COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. This request is backed by the fact that $1 billion has been saved by Victorian residents who were unable to access gaming establishments due to their temporary closure in April.
Ms. Lydia Wilson, Whittlesea’s Chair of Administrators gave her perspective, “Some gaming venues are open until the small hours of the morning. Unemployment and stress caused by impacts of COVID-19 are at a record high, putting added pressure on vulnerable people succumbing to gambling harm.”
The city council recommends that gaming venues should be required to close at midnight and that this measure be implemented before their post-pandemic re-opening. A pokie buyback scheme was also proposed that would enable venues to create more family-friendly environments, similar to a program currently underway in the Australian Capital Territory.
Crunching the data
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s website contains a repository of research, statistics, and state-wide polling. Here are some pertinent facts relating to the state’s gambling habits.
- From 2017 to 2018, the average loss per adult by gambling was $1163 in Victoria as compared to the average of the rest of the country of $1292. Over that same period, the average pokie loss per Victorian adult was $539, lower than the average for the rest of Australia at $650.
- Victoria’s overall pokie losses rose by $86 million from 2017 to 2018.
- A survey reveals that one in 14 Victorians admitted to losing more than $100 on gambling in the previous month.
- A moderate-risk gambler can negatively affect up to three others, which would be approximately 392,000 Victorians.
- The Australian gambling industry’s 2018 advertising expenditure was $273.2 million, an increase of $89.7 million from 2011.
- Victorians aged over 75 are least likely to develop problem gambling habits.
- A survey showed that 18% of women had gambled in the previous month with the figure for men standing at 28%.
- A third of Victorians think responsible gambling equates to betting less than once per month
- One in five Victorians who do gamble could be negatively affected by their favourite pastime, which is equal to 550,000 individuals.
- Another survey demonstrated that 2.8% of individuals had reported being harmed by someone else’s gambling in the previous 12-month period. Considering the adult population of Victoria, this is equal to 122,500 people.
Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
The VRGF functions as a statutory authority that was established by the Victorian Parliament to address gambling harm in its community. The foundation’s mission is to provide support to problem gamblers and those negatively affected by another’s addiction. The organisation seeks to grow its strength and the resources to achieve its goals through strategic partnerships with similarly aligned groups and individuals.