The VCGR (that’s the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, otherwise known as the rubber stamp) released its EGM Annual figures today. These are the figures detailing Victoria’s spending on EGMs (electronic gaming machines) for the 2009-10 financial year. Not surprisingly, they managed to spin these figures to make them actually sound good.
Let’s start with the title of the press release. “Poker machine spending continues to fall.” Reading this, you’d be excused for thinking that poker machine spending has been decreasing for years… and you’d be dead wrong.
The figures are all on the VCGR web site. It takes a little digging, but the reality is that this is the first drop in annual poker machine spending, in Victoria, in six years.
Think about that. As a state, we’ve been spending more and more on the pokies, year after year, since 2003-04. And yet the VCGR proudly proclaims that spending “continues” to fall.
Moving right along… let’s see. Apparently the drop in poker machine spending was the biggest drop since 2002-03… shame it’s also only the second drop in spending since 2002-03!
What’s next? Spending dropped by 5.8%, to $611 per adult, a cut of more than 12% from from the peak of $696 per adult in 2001-02. There’s a lot wrong with this, starting with the fact that this implies that $611 per adult in Victoria is a good thing! But more than that, why do they bother comparing against 2001-02? That was 8 years ago, our population was lower, smoking bans hadn’t been implemented… it was a different playing field. Oh, I know… it sounds best. Hmmph.
We now have fewer gaming venues (514) and poker machines (26,682) in Victoria than we’ve had since the mid-1990s. That’s great, but still appalling! 26,682 poker machines? That’s more than many countries! But wait, there’s more… hooray, we now only have 6.28 poker machines for every 1000 adults. Again, that still leaves us as one of the most heavily saturated poker machine markets in the world.
Do you know what I would have liked to have seen in the VCGR press release? A little refreshing honesty… maybe a statement along these lines:
“In 2009-10, things got a little better. Not much, but a bit. The situation is still pretty goddamn awful though.”
At least that would have been the whole truth.