Wyndham pokies net $62 million despite long closures

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Victorian woman stole cash for pokies given prison sentence

Poker machines in one Melbourne council area Wyndham earned almost $62 million last financial year.

Star Weekly reports poker machines in Wyndham Council netted $61.62 million in the 2020-21 financial year, according to figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

During the 2019-20 financial year, poker machine players in the Wyndham area lost more than $75.75 million.

The VCGLR data did not include earnings from April to October 2020 for Wyndham, when poker machine venues were shut due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The municipality which lost the most money to electronic gaming machines was Brimbank, where the machines made more than $92.07 million in the 12 months to June 2021.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has called for a reduction in poker machine venue operating hours after the pandemic lockdown demonstrated how people spend fewer hours on the machines when they are unable to attend venues.

Reverend Tim Costello said it was “past time” that gambling harm was addressed as a serious public health issue.

“We shouted from the rooftops that losses would increase after lockdowns eased,” he said.

“It’s simply absurd that Victoria has the worst pokies operating hours in Australia at a ridiculous 20 hours a day.

“We cannot ignore the harm they are doing any longer, our communities cannot afford it.”

Gambling reform advocate Anna Bardsley, who lost 10 years of her life to poker machines, said gambling harm “has so many close connections to public health issues such as mental ill health, domestic violence, homelessness and other stressors such as family breakdowns.”

Wyndham has a total of 902 electronic gaming machines across 13 venues.

 

Victorian area posts single day record pokies spend

Brimbank in Melbourne’s west recorded a poker machine loss of $482,168 in February, the highest daily loss figure from poker machines since figures were tracked.

This record daily figure adds to the region’s soaring poker machine spend, with $14.6 million lost in March alone.

Despite the COVID-19 lockdown shutting venues with poker machines in the region, it has recorded losses of nearly $14 million per month since venues reopened.

Brimbank mayor Ranka Rasic said more than $1.4 billion has been lost to gambling in the area in the past decade.

In light of these losses, the Victorian legislature is trying to push a reform that may reduce losses and protect players, by reducing the operating hours of gaming venues.

Furthermore, Brimbank has proposed a $1 cap on bets and EFTPOS daily withdrawal limits of $500.

Tackling gambling harm remains a contentious topic in Victoria, with lawmakers having proposed a freeze on the number of gaming machines in the state until 2042.

Proposed changes also include limiting cheque cashing services near gambling venues and curbing advertising.

Pokies players spend up in Queensland

Data from the Queensland government reveals that when poker machines were turned back on in July after the state’s three month lockdown, Queenslanders spent nearly $300 million in a single month.

A surge in poker machine use was noted in the figures, which saw a 31.5 per cent spike on money spent in July 2020 compared to July 2019.

Since then, poker machine earnings have consistently been higher, month on month.

Comparing the same months in 2019 and 2020, August’s figures were up 21.3 per cent, September’s soared 20.1 per cent and December’s rose 20.7 per cent.

In January 2019, nearly $215 million was lost in machines, a 12 per cent increase compared to 2019.

In February, losses rose by 13 per cent at $203 million, while the most recent month of June also saw a $211 million loss, 10 per cent more than the corresponding period in 2019.

In the past 12 months, Queenslanders lost $2.8 billion in the state’s poker machines, the highest loss for a financial year since records began in 2004.

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