Geelong and Wyndham residents losing big on pokies

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Experts fear Geelong residents could spend up big at poker machines 

More than $20 million was poured into poker machines across the Geelong and Wydham region over the month of August according to data released as part of Gambling Harm Awareness Week.

The alarming figures are more than $630,000 than the month of July, according to K-Rock.

The Geelong area alone has seen pokies venues swallow more than $21 million in just two months, with the month of August its third worst month for losses on record.

Gamblers from the region poured $10,469,521 into pokies in July and $10,729,594 in August according to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulations’ most recent statistical data released.

The only times players have gambled away more cash within a single month is in December 2008 and August 2018, where losses of $11,328,218 and $10,980,245 were recorded respectively.

Given the recent losses recorded over July and August, there is a distinct possibility of 2019-20 seeing the region recording even more than its $120.4 million loss in the 2018-19 financial year.

Gamblers have on average lost more than $10 million to pokies every month for 2018-19 ($329,823 for every day of the year), which has brought the region’s total pokies losses to $2.475 billion since poker machines were introduced in 1992.

Held between October 7 and 13, Gambling Harm Awareness Week is designed to encourage community wide discussions about why gambling harm matters.

The term ‘harm’ extends well beyond money. It also refers to self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life. The harm also extends beyond the individual also onto family, friends, workplaces and communities.

Victorians encouraged to talk about gambling

Gamblng Harm Awareness Week is an initiative run by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. This week, Victorians are being encouraged to look at the negative impact of their own or someone else’s gambling. They are advised to support anyone who may be struggling from the impacts of gambling.

The theme for this year is ‘TALK.SHARE.SUPPORT’ and events are being held across the state to encourage a community-wide about the issue of gambling, which can often be hidden from others because it may feel sensitive or uncomfortable to share.

Talking and sharing can play a role in alleviating the stigma that can be associated with seeking support to the problem.

According to the foundation, harm from gambling starts earlier and occurs more frequently than people may believe. Their Hidden Harm paper from 2017 showed that 85% of harm from gambling is among low and moderate-risk gamblers.

There are two workshops hosted by the foundation for the remainder of the week.

On Wednesday, 9 October, Vicsport and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation have convened a panel of sporting professionals to consider how betting has changed the game on the impact on children. The discussion will focus on the betting on sport, including how kids are being exposed to a saturation of sports betting advertising.

Speakers at the event will be Colin Carter, President of Geelong Football Club, AFLW star Daisy Pearce and sports commentator Jason Bennett.

On Thursday, 10 October, the foundation is hosting its ‘Knowledge in Action’ workshop.

The series will focus on sharing research along with local knowledge, experience and encouraging collaboration in the community relating to gambling.

The first workshop puts youth at the heart of its discussion with areas of focus to include the presentation of new research about young people’s gambling behaviours, exposures and attitudes, which will be an Australian first, gambling normalisation amongst youths and the impact of gambling on areas such as mental health.

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