Brimbank’s poker machine lull comes to an end

Brimbank’s poker machine spending has bounced back after a brief decline and could record the second-highest figure in history.

According to data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, local punters put $115,886,254 through the pokies in the year up to the end of March. There was an almost $8 million drop in annual pokies expenditure last financial year – from $145.61 million to $137.63 million – which has been linked to the removal of ATMs from venues and changes to machine ownership.

However, Monash University’s department

of health science researcher Dr Charles Livingstone said a local increase showed punters and the industry had adapted to the changes. “I’m not surprised it’s bounced back. Overall, there’s been a stabilisation in the decline of poker machine expenditure,” he said.

“My suspicion is that problem gamblers have adapted; the industry has adapted to all sorts of changes. It’s like a game of chess, every time there’s a regulatory move the industry reacts to it. It’s quite adept at learning how to adapt to new regulatory environments.”

With Brimbank spending about $11.5 million per month, this year’s spend is set to exceed last year’s figure. VCGLR figures, which go back to 1992-93, show the 2013-14 financial year could produce the second-highest spending figure, going past $139.38 million in 2010-11, $134.96 million in 2009-10 and $136.44 million in 2008-09. The Kealba Hotel collected the most cash for the July-December 2013 period ($8.85m), followed by the Deer Park Hotel ($8.25m) and Sunshine’s Westend Market Hotel ($8.16m).

Brimbank’s pokie expenditure has soared during the past two decades, from $8.1 million in 1992-93 to 137.63 million last year.

Council chairman John Watson called on local employers to increase staff awareness of responsible gambling.