Punters in Bendigo, Victoria are losing more at pokies according to the latest data. From 2018 to 2019, the number increased 2.5% from $50,005,104 to $51,218,482. That’s a difference of more than $1 million, which is the biggest upturn in the last decade.

This increase came as a surprise to officials who’ve been working to combat problem gambling. In recent years, the number of pokies have been frozen across the state. In addition, pokies have been limited in areas with more vulnerable players, and daily cash withdrawals have been curtailed.

Bendigo Gambling Losses in 2019

There are 11 gambling venues in the Greater Bendigo area. In this section, we’ll look at the gambling losses in this former sheep station from July to December 2019.

  • The All Seasons Hotel – $5,953,660.52. Each of the club’s 99 machines took in an average of $60,138.
  • Bendigo District DSL – $4,497,386.03. The per-machine winning average was $48,359 on 93 pokies.
  • Windemere Hotel – $3,443,838.94. The club’s 40 poker machines took in an average of $86,096 apiece.
  • Bendigo Stadium – $3,171,202.11. The sports venue earned an average of $30,202 per machine.
  • Shamrock Hotel – $1,950,726.21. Each pokie earned an average of $30,011.
  • The Rising Sun Hotel – $1,865,571.57. The per-machine average was $53,302.
  • The Borough Club – $1,497,975.14. Each machine took in an average of $37,449.
  • The Bendigo Club – $1,452,749.29. The club’s machines earned an average of $24,212.
  • Kangaroo Flat Sports Club – $1,150,982.95. The club’s pokies earned an average of $19,183.
  • The Foundry Hotel Complex – $1,011,013.19. Each poker machine earned an average of $40,441.
  • City Family Hotel – $823,027.32. The per-machine winning average was $21,103.

The City of Greater Bendigo is comprised of over 111,000 people. Based on the numbers above, the losses work out to $441 for every resident. However, since the majority of Bendigonians don’t play pokies, this means some are losing thousands of dollars per year.

Victoria Struggles with Online Gambling

Based on the report, Victoria still has a long way to go in their fight against problem gambling. This war is being waged on other fronts, as well, and the state enacted a number of restrictions against online gaming operators in 2019. Here are the highlights:

  • Sports-betting providers can no longer market online services to customers. The only exception is if potential punters choose to opt-in to such marketing.
  • Operators must make it easy for customers to set limits or close their accounts.
  • Websites cannot offer vouchers, credit or other rewards to entice punters to open an account.
  • Operators cannot award free money under the condition that it’s only used for additional wagers.

The rules listed above are part of the National Consumer Protection Framework. They are the culmination of several years of work to help reduce gambling harm within Victoria.

Poker machine in Bendigo, Victoria

Tim Costello Speaks

It should come as no surprise that the biggest critic of the increased losses is Tim Costello, chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform. Mr. Costello pops up in almost every story about Australian problem gambling.

He referred to pokies as a “blight” on Bendigo. Secondly, he added that “Poker machines are designed to be deliberately addictive.”

“Poker machines are an effective drain on local economies. We know that a substantial percentage of those losses come from people experiencing gambling harm, and that gambling harm is often at its worst in areas that can least afford the losses.”

In addition, Costello suggested the following as possible solutions to the problem:

  • Eliminate losses disguised as wins.
  • Introduce regulations to slow thee spin rate of pokies.
  • Drop the maximum per-spin wager limit from $5 to $1.
  • Reduce the number of business hours for places offering pokies.

Additional Reading

If you’d like to know more about Australia’s continual struggle with problem gambling, please see the following: