Alliance for Gambling Reform Says Gamblers in Victoria Lost AU$66 Billion on Poker Machines in 30 Years

Daniel Williams

Gamblers in Victoria have lost AU$66 billion in the 3 decades since electronic slot machines got officially introduced in the state, according to calculations provided by the Alliance for Gambling Reform, an anti-gambling campaign group aimed at reducing gambling-related harm in the country. The organisation used data gathered by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) and found that, currently, Australian residents rank first in average gambling losses, with annual losses of about $1,000.

Thirty years ago, the state of Victoria allowed the launch of a total of 10,000 poker machines, also known as pokies. Currently, there are around 30,000 machines, with the majority of them placed in suburban clubs and pubs. According to the data provided by the VGCCC analysed by the Alliance for Gambling Reform, the three decades of the poker machines’ operation have taken in AU$66 billion.

The first pokies were installed on July 17th, 1992 at the Croydon-based Dorset Gardens Hotel. The move was taken after a large number of gamblers ave been heading to the border of New South Wales (NSW) to use poker machines, and the Government of Victoria wanted to get a chunk of the sector worth about AU$400 million.

Australia Emerges as the World’s Nation with the Worst Average Gambling Losses

For the time being, Australia has over 75% of the club ad pub pokies on a global scale. Australia is also home to less than 50% of the world’s population but currently has 18% of pokies, with 80% of the machines situated outside casinos.

All of this has resulted in Australia emerging as the nation with the worst average gambling losses on a global scale, at approximately 40% higher than the ones registered in Singapore, the second-worst country, with about AU$1,000 spent per adult every year. Australia currently hosts about 18% of the world’s electronic slot terminals, with the pretty favourable tax regime in the country having helped the activity spread across the territory of the country.

According to analysts, public support for the pokies is steadily decreasing. Some major sports clubs and organisations, including the Australian Football League (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL), have started selling their gambling venues in order to distance themselves from pokies. Some of them have claimed that poker machines do not bring any financial benefit to clubs and organisations and only cause gambling-related harm, which comes at the price of ruined marriages, relationships, financial problems, and even attempted suicide.

According to reports from the Alliance for Gambling Reform, cases of people who spend whatever they have on pokie machines have become quite common over the past years due to the dangerous and predatory nature of the pokies. This is exactly why the organisation has been demanding a maximum bet limit of AU$1 to be imposed on pokies across the country and suspending venues from offering 24-hour access to the machines.

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.

Daniel Williams

Author: Dale Alvarez