POKIES losses across Frankston rose slightly in the past 12 months and still topped $63 million despite the introduction of voluntary pre-commitment cards for gamblers last year.
Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) figures for 2015-16, released last week, show Frankston municipality pokies players lost $62,900,685 over 12 months, up from $62,065,687 in 2014-15.
The Labor state government launched a $197 million YourPlay scheme in December last year allowing pokies players to preselect losses limits using a swipe card to gamble on poker machines.
Critics of YourPlay note gamblers can simply increase the preselected limit if they want to play on.
Uptake of the scheme has been slow. Just 8130 YourPlay cards have been registered and 15,274 casual cards are in circulation according to state government figures released in May.
“The Andrews Labor government shares the community’s concerns about problem gambling. We are focused on reducing the harm caused by problem gambling,” Liquor and Gaming Regulation Minister Marlene Kairouz said.
“That is why we have invested $150 million over the next four years to support problem gambling services and YourPlay.
“Whilst gambling is a legitimate industry, we will continue to take an evidenced based approach to addressing the harm caused by problem gambling.”
Upper House South Eastern Metropolitan region Greens MP Nina Springle says voluntary pre-commitment has failed to curb problem gambling.
“Pokie losses continue to grow bigger and bigger. Voluntary pre-commitment has had absolutely no effect, as predicted,” Ms Springle said.
“Pokie machines are designed by experts to be highly addictive, so it’s hardly a wonder that voluntary betting limits are having zero effect.
“The Andrews government and the Napthine government before them are all spin and absolutely no substance on dealing with problem gambling.”
The Greens MP said only mandatory pre-commitment would help problem gamblers.
Pokies punters in neighbouring Mornington Peninsula Shire and Kingston lost $82,381,143 and $83,473,105 respectively in 2015-16.
Pokies in Frankston became the subject of national media attention in April when the VCGLR, the state’s gambling regulator, controversially decided the Langwarrin Hotel’s offer to build a weatherproof children’s play area at the venue was a “significant reason” to approve an application for ten extra electronic gaming machines.