Pokie machines Australia

Pokie machines are devastating poorer areas in the west of Melbourne, a new report has suggested. (Image: AAP)

A new report on pokie machine losses in Victoria has revealed the areas of Melbourne with the worst gambling problems.

The Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) report titled Gambling In Suburban Australia shows poorer suburbs suffering most. Sunshine and Sunshine West and North top the ‘worst losses’ league with $1358 per adult. Braybrook and Albion also recorded big personal pokies losses.

At the other end of the scale, Box Hill (with fewer machines) recorded the lowest spend at $400 per person.

“In the western suburbs around Sunshine, the annual average loss per adult on poker machines was $1,358, compared to $400 for adults in the eastern suburbs around Box Hill,” said Centre director, Anne Hollonds.

“While the higher losses in the west were not unexpected; this is the first time they had been quantified in this way.

“The two sites have almost the same number of households and are roughly the same distance from the city but the impact of gambling on families is far greater in the western suburbs.”

Research Fellow, Angela Rintoul, added that families in the west surburbs, “have a higher level of socioeconomic disadvantage, whereas households in the east were around average.
“This magnifies the harm from gambling.”

Victoria Still In Love With Pokies

With a major review into online gambling now complete, it’s unlikely that land-based gaming will be subject to the same scrutiny. Certainly, the Vic government will be keen to keep hold of its $1.6 billion tax revenue, a figure it reached last November.

According to VCGLR (Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation) figures for 2015, gamblers in the state spent $6 billion on machines and gambling. $2 billion was gambled alone at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, with $2.6 billion lost on pokies in clubs and hotels around Victoria. The lottery gleaned almost $400 million in tax for the state coffers.

And with many pubs and clubs continuing to reap huge profits from pokie machines, it’s unlikely that we are seeing the end of reports like the Australia Gambling Research Centre’s.

Just last week, the Coach & Horses pub applied for another 10 pokie machines to bump up its tally to 790. The Collingwood Football Club-owned club put in its application this month despite arguing it will be pokie-free in the long term.

Election Gives Power To Anti-Pokies Campaigners

That pokies losses are bigger in poorer areas will not be news to veteran anti-gambling campaigners. Senator Nick Xenophon, whose Nick Xenophon Team could hold some influence in the next government, has warned the major parties about an all-out war on gambling.

Speaking to Lateline last week, Senator Xenophon said that marginal seats could hold the balance in a possible election in two years’ time. He and fellow anti-pokies MP, Andrew Wilkie, are pushing for a $1 limit on pokies. Wilkie and Xenophon also want the select committee on gambling reform to be reinstated.

“There’s one thing the gambling lobby can’t compete with no matter how many millions they pour into the campaign, the fact is there are literally hundreds and thousands of Australians hurt by gambling addictions,” Xenophon said.

“Conservatively, one in 10 Australians are being affected by gambling addiction in this country and that’s a very significant constituency that can’t be ignored.”

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