$8 mil pokies spend

Statistics released last week have shown that, on average, every adult in the Central Goldfields Shire spent almost $780 on poker machines last financial year.

The statistics, released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, also show that between the shire’s 10,393 adults, $8,098,617.50 was put through the slots of the shire’s 114 poker machines, spread across two venues, last financial year.

The figures, which are released annually, combine the Central Goldfields Shire’s total with that of the nearby Hepburn Shire, reaching a combined total of $11,064,932, are an $807,894 increase on the 2007/08 financial year’s combined total of $10,257,038.

The most spent on pokies in the Central Goldfields and Hepburn shires within any single month during the financial year was the $1,069,217.30 gambled in December last year.

The Maryborough Highland Society’s 64 machines were the most lucrative in the shire.

The statistics for the Central Goldfields Shire also show that, on average:

• $71,040 was spent at each of the 114 machines located within the shire;

• $923.90 was spent on poker machines every hour;

• $15.40 was spent on poker machines every minute;

• $0.25 was spent every second.

The Central Goldfields and Hepburn shires followed a statewide trend of increased pokies losses for 2008/09, a year that saw Victorians lose more money to pokies than ever before.

The statewide total for pokies losses was $2.7 billion — $96 million more than in 2007/08.

Shadow Minister for Gaming and Liberal MP, Michael O’Brien placed the blame for the increased losses at the feet of the Rudd Government’s economic stimulus payments.

“In the midst of an economic downturn, John Brumby and Kevin Rudd have made sure that pokie losses continue to soar,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Mr Rudd could have sent the stimulus cheques directly to John Brumby and cut out the middle man.

“In light of the Premier’s proposal to massively expand the (Crown) casino by 150 gaming tables, Victorians have every right to ask whether this government is addicted to gambling revenue.

“John Brumby is refusing to seriously tackle problem gambling because he is too dependent on gambling taxes to prop up his budget,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr O’Brien also pointed out that 58 percent, or $55.3 million, of the $96 million in increased losses came during December last year and April-May of this year — periods in which the $900 economic stimulus payments were deposited in bank accounts across the state.

St Luke’s and Centacare currently operate a Gambler’s Help program.

The free and confidential service can be accessed 24 hours a day by phoning 1800 244 323, or by visiting St Luke’s offices in Maryborough, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Echuca, Mildura and Swan Hill.

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