Victorians Spent $2.6 Billion Pokies Last Year

Victoria is one of the most progressive states in Australia, when it comes to introducing harm minimisation measures to curb problem gambling spending. Unfortunately, effectiveness of these measures is wearing thin, as Victorian players have spent $43 million more on pokies than they had in the previous year.

Over the course of the past few years, Victorian lawmakers have employed a number of safe gambling measures, which included limiting the amount of money that players can spend per spin and banning the use of headphones while playing pokies. They also banned ATMs from being located on gaming floors, which required players to leave their poker machine in order to withdraw more cash. While these measures initially helped to drive problem gambling rates down, they have been counteracted.

“In Victoria, both the Liberal and Labor parties have introduced harm minimisation policies, which have had good effect, have seen a reduction in the losses, and they’ve capped machine numbers and so on,” says Dr Charles Livingstone, gambling researcher at Monash University. “And all of those have been good. Unfortunately, the operators have now worked out how to start increasing the revenue again.”

Responsible gambling advocates are concerned that the increase in poker machine gambling spending is due to the fact that more and more pokies are appearing in low income areas. Problem gambling rates are higher in these locations, which has many experts concerned about rising incidence of gambling addiction.

Now may be the time for Victorian lawmakers to introduce newer, stricter measures for reducing potential gambling harm for pokie players. We are very interested in seeing how the state will continue to curb gambling spending in the future, potentially setting examples for other local governments across the country.