Brimbank residents have had the highest pokies losses in more than 12 months according to damning figures released on Friday.
Monthly data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) show that pokies venues in Brimbank took more than $12.8M from residents last month.
Brimbank Councillor, Virginia Tachos said losses had jumped from $134.14 million to $139.51 million in 2017-18 to once again be the highest in the state.
“It is disturbing that the new financial year has opened with a 9 per cent increase in July to a record $12.81 million in losses in just one month.
“No other Victorian council area suffered a single month increase in losses of more than $1 million in July and if this keeps up Brimbank’s losses could top $150 million in 2018-19.
“Our communities are suffering from gambling harm and it’s only getting worse.
“This is a public health crisis and it needs to end. We call on the State Government and opposition parties to commit to $1 maximum bets, reduce venue opening hours, and lower the cap on the number of pokies machines in our community,” Cr Tachos said.
Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman and director Tim Costello said the new VCGLR data shows that Victoria is headed for record pokies losses in 2018.
The figures for the month of July show that Victorians lost $239.037 million over the month, an increase of 3.9% or $8.911 million on the $230.126 million lost in July 2017.
This means that in the first seven months of 2018, Victorian pokies losses have jumped by $81.13 million or 5.48 per cent to $1.562 billion and are on track to set both a calendar record in 2018 and, if the trend continues, a financial year record in 2018-19.
“Increased losses mean rising harm, family violence, suicide, financial hardship and crime, which is particularly disturbing when you consider it is often our most vulnerable communities who are being exploited by poker machines.
“Successive Victorian Governments have become reliant on the easy money of gambling taxes but this has got to stop,” Mr Costello said.
“With the state election just three months away we need the major parties to come up with new policies which will reduce pokies losses.
“We are saying the next Victorian Parliament must show some spine and heart and address this issue to prevent the needless suicides, family violence, bankruptcy and fraud which flows when $2.7 billion a year is ripped from the community through addictive poker machines in suburban pubs and clubs.”