POKIES losses across Kingston have risen by almost $2 million in the past 12 months and still topped $80 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 Kingston municipality pokies players lost $83,473,105 over 12 months, up from $81,509,892 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 at St Kilda Football Club’s Moorabbin headquarters, set to be refurbished with $8 million in taxpayers’ money courtesy of the Labor state government and $5 million of ratepayers’ funds from Kingston Council, are in the spotlight since training facilities for junior footballers will also be located at the Linton St site.
Punters lost $2,223,654 playing pokies at St Kilda FC’s venue in 2015-16, down slightly from $2,294,691 the year before.
Pokies punters in neighbouring Frankston lost $62,900,685 in 2015-16.