Calls for Australian national gambling harm regulator amid US$7.7bn pokies losses

Home » Calls for Australian national gambling harm regulator amid US$7.7bn pokies losses

The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Chief Advocate has called on the federal government and states to establish a national gambling harm regulator in Australia, following new research that found Australians lost more than AU$11.4 billion (US$7.74 billion) on poker machines in a single year.
Pokies losses decreased by around 17% in Victoria and New South Wales compared to pre-pandemic levels, owing primarily to pandemic closures and restrictions, but they increased in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania compared to 2018/19.
Over the 2021/22 fiscal year, gaming machine users in Victoria alone lost over AU$2.2 billion, with the average Victorian user losing around AU$2,800.
The figures, compiled by Monash University’s Gambling and Social Determinants Unit, include poker machines in pubs and clubs but not in casinos.

Tim Costello, Chief Advocate at the Alliance for Gambling Reform, predicts that losses will increase despite rising living costs and declining real wages.

“It goes up under stress,” Costello explained. “People literally either get some relief from sitting in the zone in front of the machine, or they have a belief: I’m stuffed anyway, I can’t pay the rent or mortgage anyway, but maybe the pokies are a shot.”

Costello has called for the establishment of a national gambling harm regulator to outline the financial, social, and health consequences of poker machine addiction in the country. Australia is home to 75% of the world’s pub and club slot machines.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), Victoria’s new gaming watchdog, recently warned that stricter money laundering and problem gambling laws at Crown Melbourne could drive pokie addicts and criminals to pubs and clubs.