IT took gamblers just one year to lose more than $79 million on the Mornington Peninsula’s 858 poker machines at 17 venues.
Figures for the past financial year released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation in its 2014-15 annual report, tabled in state Parliament last Tuesday show Victorians gambled away $5.8 billion, 7.7 per cent up from the previous year, including almost $2.6 billion on pokies.
The state government pocketed $1.6 billion from gambling revenue in 2014-15, $400 million more than predicted by gambling opponents two years ago. Victorians lost more money on every form of gambling including poker machines, sports betting, lotteries, Keno and at the casino.
Pokies accounted for the biggest losses, with $2.57 billion going into the slots of the state’s 27,000 gaming machines, an increase of 2.7 per cent on the previous year.
More than $25 billion has been lost on pokies in Victoria in the past decade.
The Grand Hotel in Mornington pipped Rosebud Hotel as the leading venue on the peninsula for pokies losses – $11.09 million compared to $11.06 million. No 3 was Steeples, also in Mornington, with $9.18 million.
They were followed by Somerville Hotel $5.7 million, Rye RSL $5.6m, Rosebud RSL $4.98m, Stella’s Dromana Hotel $4.9m, Westernport Hotel in Hastings $4.5m, Baxter Tavern $3.4m, Rye Hotel $3.1m, Kings Creek Hotel in Hastings $3.1m, Dava Hotel in Mt Martha $2.88m, Hastings Cricket and Football Social Club $2.8m, Mornington On Tanti Hotel $2.15m, Kirkpatricks Hotel in Mornington $1.9m, Rosebud Country Club $1.44m, and Peninsula Club in Dromana $1.4m.
Pokies players on the peninsula lost more than $20 million in the first three months of the 2015-16 financial year, $545,000 more than the same time last year.
Poker machines on the peninsula made headlines earlier in the year when Stella’s Dromana Hotel was refused approval for an additional nine machines to add to its 41, but Mornington On Tanti Hotel sought and won permission for an extra 17 pokies to take its total from 23 to 40. Stella’s is still seeking extra pokies.
The Peninsula Club in Dromana, formerly Dromana-Red Hill RSL, won approval for 15 pokies last year. It had wanted 18 machines but a compromise was reached that saw the club make a large cash payment to a community group. It now has 35 pokies.
Last year a report to shire councillors stated the gambling commission had set a cap on the number of poker machines in the municipality – 1127.
The council’s out-of-date responsible gaming strategy was due to be revised in April but has not been completed.
The Labor government recently stated it would trial a system that linked all pokies in Victoria and give gamblers the option to pre-set how much they were prepared to lose.
Dr Charles Livingstone of Monash University’s school of public health reportedly said the take-up rate would be low. He said a serious pre-commitment system would be mandatory and require gamblers to set limits well in advance.
He said people with a gambling problem wouldn’t want to know how much they were spending when in front of a machine.
Anti-pokies campaigners said the system would only allow gamblers to set a limit for the day they were at a pokies venue.