Australians lost over US$7.74bn on poker machines in 2021

It's estimated that gambling machine losses will exceed AU$13bn next year.
It's estimated that gambling machine losses will exceed AU$13bn next year.

A study by the Gambling and Social Determinants Unit at Monash University revealed Australians lost over AU$11.4bn on slots.

Australia.- Scrutiny of the Australian gambling sector continues with a new study showing that Australians lost more than AU$11.4bn (US$7.74bn) on slots, or poker machines, in pubs and clubs across five states last year.

The figures compiled by Monash University’s Gambling and Social Determinants Unit showed that in the 30 years to 2019 poker machine losses at hotels and clubs in Australia amounted to AU$308.4bn.

The study revealed that New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania lose AU$11.4bn annually, the equivalent of AU$658 for every adult resident. For players using poker machines, the average loss across the five states was AU$3,429 per year.

Annual losses totalled AU$5.4bn in NSW and AU$2.2bn in Victoria. Those amounts decreased by an average of 17 per cent or a total of AU$1.6bn compared to 2018-19 due to pandemic restrictions.

Charles Livingstone, Monash University associate professor, said: “Previous trends are likely to resume after the easing of pandemic restrictions with hotel and club gambling machines total expenditure for 2022-23 likely to exceed AU$13bn across Australia.”

Tim Costello, the chief advocate at the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) has called for the federal government and states to establish a national gambling harm regulator “to reduce the terrible toll gambling is wrecking on Australian society.”

He added: “A regulator can bring the states together, it can progressively reduce the number of poker machines, it can fast-track harm minimisation measures such as digital wallets. At the moment there is no coordination and no will to act.”

In July, the AGR revealed that Queenslanders were losing more than AU$250m a month in poker machines. The figure was up 33 per cent compared to two years ago.

The group’s report showed that Queensland poker machine losses were up 17 per cent year on year in June, from AU$216m to AU$253m. The figure was up 30 per cent when compared to June 2019. Poker machine losses in Queensland totalled AU$2.789bn in the last financial year.

In an attempt to intensify control of the gaming industry, in August, the Victorian Government introduced 12 more measures from the 33 recommendations made by Judge Raymond Finkelstein, who led the state of Victoria’s inquiry into Crown Resorts.

As a result of new legislation, every Australian resident who uses the pokies must set a maximum loss limit before playing. Crown will be given until the end of 2023 to implement the mandatory pre-commitments, with full implementation needed no later than 2025. Customers will be able to see any loss limit they choose.

Other new measures include limiting cash transactions to $1,000 per 24 hours in a bid to crack down on money laundering. Meanwhile, Crown will be made to pay for the cost of regulating the casino and the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission will have to approve any ownership of more than 5 per cent of the casino operator.

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