Losses on Victoria’s poker machines have jumped to a 4-year high amid renewed calls for more effective action on gambling reform.
Figures released this week by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) show that in the year ending June 2016, Victorians lost $2.616 billion on poker machines in clubs and pubs, up by almost $45 million from the previous year.
Brimbank was once again the hardest hit municipality in the state, with losses of $143 million. They were followed by Casey ($124.8 million), Dandenong ($118.8 million), Geelong ($113.2 million) and Whittlesea ($111.6 million).
The increase in losses comes despite the introduction of Your Play, a voluntary pre-commitment card scheme for poker machines that was rolled out by the Victorian government in December 2015. The scheme appears to have had little impact on Victorians’ gambling habits.
The news of the surge in losses comes at a time when federal MPs Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon are in talks with the Greens to launch a renewed push for $1 bets on all Australian poker machines, and can only strengthen their position.
I stood for the Greens in the seat of La Trobe in the recent federal election and while campaigning, spoke regularly of the need to keep fighting for gambling reform.
The City of Casey overlaps with the seat of La Trobe, and Casey’s citizens lost almost $5.5 million more on poker machines this year than last. That’s the single biggest increase for any municipality in the state, yet as I have said time and time again, the real damage comes from the lives that have been torn apart. We need to stop putting profits before people. Poker machines are everyone’s problem.
The renewed call for $1 bets was immediately opposed by both the Federal Coalition government and lobby group Clubs Australia.