October 9, 2023 3 min read


Australians Lose Record $14.5B to Poker Machines

These staggering losses do not include money gambled in casinos or on sports, horse, and greyhound racing, reflecting the country’s growing problem gambling woes

Australians have set a new and concerning record in their gambling habits, with losses from poker machines reaching an astonishing AUD 14.5 billion ($9.25 billion) in the last financial year. This figure marks a sharp increase from the losses reported in 2018-19, the previous financial year uninterrupted by COVID-19 restrictions. Research by the Alliance for Gambling Reform highlights the significant societal impact of pokies, urging for stricter regulations.

Problem Gambling Has Evolved into a Nation-Wide Issue

New South Wales is Australia’s most affected region, accounting for over half of these colossal losses. The last financial year saw residents of New South Wales lose AUD 8.07 billion ($5.55 billion) to poker machines, representing a worrisome 23.7% increase from 2018-19. These statistics underscore the urgent need for decisive action within the state.

Queensland and Victoria also experienced substantial losses to pokies for the same period. Queenslanders lost AUD 3.2 billion ($2.04 billion), reflecting a sharp increase of 33.6%, while Victorians reported losses of AUD 3 billion ($1.91 billion), marking a 12% raise. These figures indicate that poker machine losses are not confined to a single state but are a nation-wide concern.

These staggering new loss figures show an industry that is out of control. And these figures don’t even count poker machine losses in our casinos.

Carol Bennett, Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO

A 2017 government report highlighted that poker machines use sophisticated techniques like game math and psychological principles to maximize player spending and time spent playing. These techniques can increase the addictive potential of poker machines, further exacerbating their societal burden.

Administrations Must Adopt a More Proactive Approach

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett expressed deep concern over the latest data. She emphasized the urgent need for more stringent regulation of the gambling industry. Bennett criticized the government for moving too slowly in addressing the issue, expressing her disappointment with the limited trial of cashless gaming cards, which the previous premier had planned to make mandatory.

Pokies became a prominent topic during political campaigns leading to the recent New South Wales election. The region’s new government has taken a harsher stance against gambling harm, recently allocating $100 million to curb growing addiction rates and protect vulnerable individuals. However, progress on meaningful reforms has been slow, causing significant concern.

These staggering new loss figures show an industry that is out of control… and translate into very high levels of harm across our community.

Carol Bennett, Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO

The staggering AUD 14.5 billion losses further highlight the negative impact of gambling in Australia. Although the federal government has taken a proactive stance with reforms, regional administrations must also help address this issue. Introducing cashless gaming in NSW will be a vital first step, but enhanced regulations across the entire industry remain a priority.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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