Residents in Victoria lost over $2.7 billion on poker machines in 2018, breaking the previous record by $58 million. The excesses in betting are now catching the attention of different parties who are calling on politicians to slash the maximum bets on these machines.
Pokies are very popular in the country as poker machines can be found all over the country in a variety of establishments. As Victoria is the second most popular state in the country, it is proving to be a hub for pokies who are breaking records one year after the other. According to the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation, Victorians lost $2.7 billion to poker in 2018, a figure which increased by a whopping $103 million from the previous year. This shows long-standing concerns about the urgency of gambling regulation and problem gambling in the country.
The issue is being taken forward by The Alliance for Gambling Reform, a body dedicated to looking at problem gambling figures. The previous record for the region was $2.6 billion which has increased by $58 million in 2018. The worst of the losses were felt in Brimbank. It was the first Victorian council to post over $140 million in losses. Pokies lost the most during August totaling up to $246 million which is the second largest monthly loss ever.
Tim Costello, the director of the Alliance for Gambling Reform said that Australia’s political parties need to work urgently to create new rules for gambling. The country wants to emulate the example of the United Kingdom where the max stake on the fixed odds betting machines was dropped from 100 pounds to just 2 pounds in order to curb addictive gambling. Costello suggests that Australia should restrict the maximum bet on pokies to $1 and work on making the design less addictive. He also suggests that placing restrictions on the hours of pokie establishments is a good solution as well.
He noted that the Victorian parliament passed legislation for issuing 20-year pokies licenses 14 months ago and the residents are now suffering the biggest losses in history because of the decision. He called out the major political parties for working together to increase the losses of the community at a time when Australia is already reaching record gambling losses compared to the rest of the world.
According to reports from the Queensland Government Statisticians Office, Australians are becoming the biggest gamblers in the world. In 2016 and 2017, they made wagers of around $210 billion, billions ahead of the second country in the list- Singapore.