By Meg Kennedy
Almost $10 million was lost on poker machines in Moorabool in the last 12-months.
New data released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) revealed three Moorabool venues as hotspots for pokies, with customers losing a combined $9.6 million in the LGA.
The highest venue saw a total of $5,276,193.49 net electronic gaming machine expenditure (the amount lost by customers) in the 2018/19 financial year; an increase of almost $430,000 over 12-months.
This was followed by two other venues that recorded a net expenditure $3,358,198.10 and $1,049,430.28 respectively.
According to the VCGLR entitlements register, Moorabool currently has three licensed gaming venues, all based in Bacchus Marsh.
These three venues hold a combined 110 gaming machine entitlements (each entitlement is equal to one machine) at 45 percent of the Moorabool municipality cap, which is 247 machines.
No new entitlements in Moorabool have been granted in the last 12-months.
Although applications for machines aren’t decided by Council, Moorabool Shire Mayor Cr Paul Tatchell shared his personal concern regarding the prevalence of gaming machines in Victoria.
“I have never seen a gambling venue application in my time on Council, so I can only give a personal viewpoint; I remember when Victorians didn’t have access to poker machine venues in this State…today there are gambling venues scattered all within easy reach, and there is a trail of misery at arms-length from the operators; the Government gets a good lick from the misfortunes and communities pick up the pieces,” he said.
“Families have lost their homes, people have squandered their life savings and the impact of problem gambling can’t be ignored in terms of family violence, yet the flashing lights continue to lure unabated.
“Whilst I acknowledge that some can deal with the novelty of the poker machine without ill-effect, we can’t ignore the self-destruction of the gambling addicted and the knock-on effect to their inner circle,” he said.
Although Moorabool Shire Council planned to develop a Council Policy “about problem gambling and the impacts on the community” for 2017, as part of Council’s 2013-2017 Health & Wellbeing Plan, a spokesperson for Council confirmed to the Moorabool News that this plan was scrapped, as it “was decided this was out of Council’s scope, so never went ahead.”
According to Responsible Gambling Victoria, $621,084,534 was lost on gambling in regional Victoria in the 2017/18 financial year.