Victoria Reports Record Pokie Losses of $251m in Dec 2021

Updated On Mar 1, 2022 by Petar Markoski


  • Victoria’s gambling watchdog reports record pokie losses
  • Disadvantaged areas report highest pokie losses
  • Aussie legislators sound alarm on problem gambling concerns

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) recently revealed that around $251 million was lost to pokie machines in December 2021.

The amount surpassed the state’s previous record monthly loss of $250 million in December 2008.

The figures stated that Victorians lost another $224 million to pokies in January 2022, despite the damage inflicted by COVID-19 on the hospitality industry.

Disadvantaged Areas Report Highest Losses

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ index of relative socio-economic disadvantage (IRSD) recorded the worst pokies losses in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Victoria. Brimbank was the worst loser out of five of the most disadvantaged local government areas (LGAs) in Victoria. Brimbank registered pokies losses of $42 million over November and December 2021 and January 2022.

Brimbank was the worst-hit LGA by the omicron wave and reported the highest COVID-induced death rate in Victoria since December. Brimbank also ranked low in terms of median household income during the last census in 2016, accounting for a weekly average of $487 for a person and $1,263 for a household. The figures were well below Victoria’s average stats of $644 and $1,419, respectively.

Out of the 79 LGAs in Victoria, five contained pokies that accounted for 25.81% of the losses from December to January. Brimbank, Greater Dandenong, Whittlesea, Hume and Casey incurred some of the worst electronic gaming machine (EGM) losses.

Greater Dandenong lost $34.7 million to pokies, while Hume, Casey, and Whittlesea lost $34.8 million, $37.9 million, and $33.7 million, respectively. Pokies losses in Victoria have risen ever since their installation in 1991 but have peaked at more than $200 million from 2004. In 2019, Victoria lost a whopping $2.7 billion to EGMs.

Aussie Legislators Sound Alarm

Alliance for Gambling Reform’s (AGR) Tim Costello called the losses an unfortunate but ‘sobering reminder’ about gambling harms. His views were echoed by Samantha Ratnam of Victorian Greens. The AGR urged for stricter regulations for the gambling industry after Victoria’s royal commission inquiry into Crown Resorts. Advocates of gambling reform cited that about 40% of pokies losses are from high rollers and signal the weakness of harm minimisation measures.

Costello and Ratnam suggested measures like pre-commitment systems, abolishing loss disguised as wins, and a $1 limit on bets and jackpots not exceeding $500 to control gambling harm. Costello also questioned the Victorian government’s plans to tackle the enormous losses. In August 2021, the government announced the overhaul of the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gaming Regulation (VCLGR), and introduced VGCCC instead to monitor harm-minimisation measures in the state’s gambling industry.

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