Victorians Blew A Record $2.7 Billion On The Pokies Last Year

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It’s the worst odds in the house – any house – but that hasn’t stopped Victorians from blowing an astonishing $2.726 billion on poker machines in 2018, an increase from the previous year of $103 million, according to figures released by the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation (VCGLR).

But even worse, according to the Alliance for Gambling Reform, that figure is $58 million higher than the previous record of $2.668 billion, set in 2009.

The most remarkable part? All of this is occurring in a state which purports to be cracking down on pokies, with the Labor Government claiming it’s moving to curb the growth of the one-armed bandits.

Victoria currently has a cap on machines – there’s already 27,372 of the bastards, not including the 2,500 machines at Crown Casino, but the Andrews Government has promised no more new machines… until 2042, that is. In the meantime, pubs and clubs (i.e. not Crown Casino) will continue to be restricted to a maximum of 105 machines.

And what does that mean for individuals and organisations who already have significant numbers of machines? A license to print money.

The top 10 pokies owners fleeced more than $185 million from Victorians last year. Chief among those was food giant Woolworths, which had four of the top 10 venues for a total of $74.62 million (and 80 pokies venues in total).

10 worst Victorian pokies venues for gambler losses in 2018

VENUE COUNCIL OWNER 2017 LOSSES 2018 LOSSES TRADING HOURS
Epping Plaza Hotel Whittlesea Alex Robertson $21.06m $20.18m 9am-5am
Berwick Springs Hotel Casey Zagames $18.03m $19.98m 9am-5am
Plough Hotel Whittlesea ALH/Woolies $18.98m $19.9m 9am-5am
Kealba Hotel Brimbank Melbourne Storm $16.21m $19.01m 9am-5am
Skyways Taverner Moonee Valley ALH/Woolies $16.58m $18.58m 8am-4am
Keysborough Hotel Dandenong ALH/Woolies $18.7m $18.32m 9am-5am
Bundoora Taverner Whittlesea ALH/Woolies $17.24m $17.82m 9am-5am
Gladstone Park Hotel Hume Hunter family $18.04m $17.56m 8am-4am
Rosstown Hotel Glen Eira Nikakis family $16.59m $17.1m 9am-5am
Dorset Gardens Maroondah Scerri family $16.37m $16.98m 10am-6am

Alliance for Gambling Reform director and spokesman Tim Costello said the figures highlighted the need for all MPs in the newly elected Victorian Parliament to look at ways to reduce Australia’s levels of gambling harm.

“It has now been 14 months since the Victorian Parliament passed legislation issuing new 20 year pokies licences and Victorians have suffered the biggest losses in history over that period,” Mr Costello said.

“The major parties should be ashamed of themselves for working together to increase losses at a time when the community is calling for political leaders to tackle Australia’s world record levels of gambling losses.

“It is time for both of our major parties, and the expanding cross-bench in both houses, to commit to reforms such as $1 maximum bets, reduced operating hours and less addictive machine design. No proudly progressive Government can sit back and legislate for increased losses in vulnerable suburbs given we now know how poker machines are deliberately designed to addict gamblers.”

Monthly losses 2017 ($m) 2018 Numeric Change Per cent Change
Jan $209.4 $221.7 $12.3m 5.9
Feb $193.6 $203.5 $9.9m 5.1
Mar $213.2 $227.3 $14.1m 6.6
April $210.5 $220.5 $9.9m 4.7
May $212.4 $227.2 $14.8m 7.0
June $212.2 $223.3 $11.1m 5.2
July $230.1 $239.0 $8.9m 3.9
August $233.9 $246.2 $12.3m 5.3
September $224.7 $229.4 $4.7m 2.1
October $226.7 $228.5 $1.8m 0.8
November $222.3 $228.9 $6.6m 3.0
December $234.2 $230.5 $-3.7m -1.6
Full calendar $2,623.2 $2726.0 $102.8m 3.9%

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