BASS Coast residents and visitors have lost almost $800,000 more on the area’s 216 poker machines than they did last year, despite the best efforts of the local shire which lists gaming losses as “a significant issue” for the local community.
Although well down on the $19 million we blew on the pokies in 2012, it was still well in excess of the $15.1m recorded losses in 2013-14 and 2012-13.
In total, losses were up by five per cent to $15,851,954 to the end of June 2015.
The increase was almost double the state average with Victorians losing $2.57 billion on the state’s poker machines last financial year – the second consecutive year punters have blown more than $2.5 billion.
New data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation shows that, in 2014-15, Victorians lost 2.7 per cent more than they did in the previous financial year on the state’s 26,000 poker machines.
The State Government’s share of the take this year is $1.08 billion.
The massive losses have renewed calls for more to be done to reduce the harm of poker machines, including limiting bets to $1.
Campaigners have also highlighted that the losses are most pronounced in the state’s most disadvantaged areas.
Locally; in South Gippsland losses were up from $6.515m to $6.592m, in Baw Baw the pokies took $13.295m, up from $12.641m but in Latrobe City the take was down from $44.334m to $43.614m.
So concerned is the Bass Coast Shire Council about the losses that it has developed a new Electronic Gaming Machine Policy to clarify Council’s position, roles and responsibilities in relation to EGMs.
The Policy is available on Council’s website at basscoast.vic.gov.au/gaming and is on public exhibition, awaiting your comment, until August 3, 2015.
The shire lists itself as a “key advocate for harm minimisation in relation the electronic gaming machines within our area”, being an active member of the state-wide Local Government Working Group on Gambling, the Enough Pokies Campaign (Victoria) and the Alliance for Gambling Reform (a new national campaign).
A feature of the policy is that “Council will discourage applications for expansion or new electronic gaming machines in areas of social and economic disadvantage”, i.e. Bass Coast, using data and community responses to support its position.
The discussion paper with the draft policy indicates that much of the money lost on Bass Coast poker machines is domestic, that is, it is lost by locals rather than visitors to the area.
In 2013-14, players lost $6.02m on poker machines at two venues on Phillip Island but $9.07m at the three Wonthaggi venues.
Losses in Bass Coast, per machine, are also higher than the state average
The council’s Acting CEO, David Elder said it was disappointing to see losses in Bass Coast had increased.
“In response to increasing losses to EGMs in Bass Coast, we have taken a two pronged attack,” Mr Elder said.
“1. Advocacy and implementing change on the ground – we are members of the Enough Pokies Campaign and have agreed to become a founding member of the national Gambling Alliance. We also sit at the table with many partner organisations such as Bass Coast Health and South Coast Primary Care Partnership to provide support, advice and provide interventions and initiatives to combat problem gambling (Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan).
“2. Planning – our new Electronic Gaming Machine Policy is currently out for public comment. Once adopted, we will commence preparation of a Planning Scheme Amendment to implement aspects of the Policy into the Bass Coast Planning Scheme. This will give us greater controls in respect to any future planning applications for relocation or additional gaming machines across the shire.”