- New figures reveal that Australians spent AUD$2.6 million on pokies in a single year
- Large proportion of expenditure happens in pokies at AFL club sites
It’s no secret that Aussies love to place a bet: the nation is famed for running up higher betting losses per capita than any other country. The extent of Australia’s love of wagers has been revealed in new figures released that show Melbourne gamblers to have pushed AUD$2.6 billion into pokies in a single year.
One of the primary beneficiaries of Australia’s love affair with pokies has been AFL clubs, where many of the machines are situated.
AFL clubs making a bumper haul
AFL clubs in 17 venues took in AUD$94 million from slots last year, a figure which the Alliance for Gambling Reform has described as being large.
Some of the largest amounts wagered and lost were at Hawthorn, where $23.29 million was put into slots, and at Carlton whose 290 machines brought in $17.6 million. Other AFL clubs whose pokies raked in a bumper haul were those at Melbourne, Collingwood, Geelong, Western Bulldogs and Richmond.
Gambling revenue is always a contentious issue, with operators’ profits needing to be balanced with a need to weigh up their social responsibility to bettors. The Alliance for Gambling Reform is in no doubt about the threat of pokies however, with spokesman Tim Costello pleading with AFL clubs to get rid of the “addictive poker machines”.
“Hawthorn and all other AFL clubs should get out of the pokies misery business — football is a wealthy industry which does not need to prey on vulnerable people in parts of Melbourne suffering above average stress and hardship,” said Costello.
He continued: “Victorians concerned about gambling should think hard about taking out a second club membership with North Melbourne to voice their support for the Roos which have now been pokies-free for a decade without any other Victorian club following their honourable lead.”
Pokies continue their rise
AFL clubs aren’t the only places where punters can play pokies of course, and the revenue these sites took in last year from slots pales in comparison to the $2.61 billion that Victoria took in from pokies in the last financial year.
Evidence points towards certain suburbs being particularly susceptible to betting, with the City of Casey recording losses of $127 million, up $3 million from the year before, and City of Whittlesea and Greater Geelong also racking up record losses.
While efforts have been made to place a cap on the number of pokies permitted in the state, many are concerned that not enough is being done to protect Victorian gamblers.
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