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Victorian poker machine losses reach a staggering $66billion

30th anniversary marks a trail of gambling harm

17 July 2022

More than $66 billion has been lost through poker machines in Victoria since their introduction 30 years ago today.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform released their analysis of the staggering losses today, on the 30th anniversary since the first poker machines were introduced on 17 July 1992 at the Dorset Gardens Hotel in Croydon.

“The tragedy of this $66 billion figure is the profound damage this presents to countless people, families and communities,” the Alliance’s chief advocate, Tim Costello, said.
“Back then Victoria started with 10,000 machines, today there are 30,000 poker machines and despite mandatory closing laws operators have found loopholes to provide gambling access 24 hours a day – and in some of Victoria’s most vulnerable communities.”

The $66 billion loss figure comes from analysis completed by the Alliance using publicly available information from the regulator, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission. It was based on the annual and monthly data available which highlight the yearly electronic gaming machine expenditure since 1992.

(Editor’s note: As the figures were not yet published for June or up to the 17th of July, an estimate was made that losses in that period would be $250 million (which is a conservative estimate and less than the losses in the previous three months. These are losses, not total expenditure, i.e.: if a person had $10, won $20 but then lost $30 – the ‘loss’ counted would be $10.)

The Alliance wants urgent action to reduce the impact of losses in Victorian communities. Measures that are needed include uniform, mandatory closing hours of all poker machine venues from 2am to 6am. It also wants the introduction of universal pre-commitment on all poker machines and the lowering of maximum bets on all machines to $1.

In 2004, the Victorian Government legislated to reduce opening hours of poker machine venues from 24 hours to 20 hours a day in an effort to minimise the harm from gambling and provide a break for problem gamblers. But the changes did not specify what hours venues must close. Owners with multiple venues are now staggering their hours to provide 24 hour gambling access.

Thirty years ago today:

  • There were only 10,000 machines allowed, now there is 30,000 with two operators, the TAB and Tattersalls, allowed to install up to 5000 machines each in the first 18 months. No more than 100 machines were allowed at any one venue and a maximum of five machines at hotels and other ‘restricted venues’.

  • Today there are over 29,437 machines and a maximum of 100 allowed at each venue (with the exception of Crown)

  • At the time, a $2 betting limit was set, today the betting limit is $5

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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