Some Melbourne suburbs are spending close to half a million dollars on poker machines every day, sparking calls for Premier Dan Andrews to follow in NSW’s footsteps and introduce mandatory cashless gaming cards with spending limits.
Data released by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation revealed the local government area of Brimbank in Melbourne’s northwest has the highest pokie expenditure in the state, spending $444,789 per day in 2020/2021.
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So far this financial year, $90 million has already been spent on the pokies in the council area.
Casey, in the state’s southeast, came in second with residents spending $387,606 a day on the pokies in 2020/2021. Greater Dandenong rounded out the top three, with $351,892 spent a day across its 927 poker machines.
Top 10 Victorian LGASs with the highest pokies expenditure per day in 2020/21:
- Brimbank – $444,789
- Casey – $387,606
- Greater Dandenong – $351,892
- Hume – $348,790
- Greater Geelong – $326,227
- Whittlesea – $324,844
- Monash – $301,028
- Wyndham – $297,727
- Mornington Peninsula – $238,370
- Darebin – $226,091
In total, $1.58 billion was spent on the pokies in Victoria between July 1 and December 31, 2022, according to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission.
Pressure is mounting on Andrews to introduce harsher reforms to curb problem gambling in the state.
On Thursday, Andrews said the total amount of money lost to the pokies was “not the same as problem gambling”.
“Not everybody who goes to the pokies at their local RSL club or their local pub …. not every one of those dollars is a problem gambling dollar,” he said.
“There are some in our community who have a problem with gambling, in all of its different forms, and we provide very significant support to them. Can we do more? Of course, always.
“But I wouldn’t equate total amount put through or total losses with just problem gambling – that isn’t accurate at all.”
Ahead of a state election in March, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a plan to introduce cashless gaming cards with mandatory self-imposed spending limits. The state government plans to roll cashless gaming out in full by 2028.
Victoria has adopted a cashless gaming card system called Yourplay, however the cards are voluntary and spending limits are optional.
Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate Tim Costello said Yourplay is a “complete joke”.
“It’s a bit like saying ‘Oh you can pay a bit extra for your car if you wanted brakes’,” he said.
“Making it optional or voluntary, not it’s got to be universal – it’s gotta be everybody, that’s what NSW is doing and Dan Andrews really has to do that.
“Dan Andrews really is leading the party of social injustice when it comes to his pokies policy here.”