By Brendan Rees
Gamblers in Casey lost a staggering $132.4 million in the last financial year – prompting calls from critics to “outlaw the predatory and addictive features” of poker machines.
Figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation show Casey took out second in the state with pokies losses – equal to $524 for every adult.
Of the 13 venues in Casey the Berwick Springs Hotel ranked second in Victoria, taking $19.7 million.
Hampton Park Tavern was also in the top 10 and had the largest increase in player losses, raking in $1.3 million more than the previous year.
Punters also forked out $6.6 million at Amstel Golf Club; $12.9 million at Fountain Gate Taverner, and $8.2 million at Trio Sports Club in Cranbourne.
Cranbourne Information and Support Service’s executive officer Leanne Petrides said gambling had devastating effects on families seeking their help.
“We see a number of people attending our service for counselling and financial counselling who have lost so much due to gambling on the pokies including their relationships and, in some cases, their homes,” she said.
“We are also working with an increasing number of children and young people who are addicted to gaming.”
Casey acting director of city planning and infrastructure Duncan Turner said council been advocating for the State Government to extend a cap on the number of Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM) for the whole municipality.
“Council remains concerned about gambling losses being experienced by Casey residents, particularly given many are from vulnerable communities already experiencing relatively high levels of socio-economic disadvantage,” Mr Turner said.
“A city-wide cap would provide certainty to the remaining parts of Casey to keep the EGM density consistent across the municipalit.”
Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman, the Reverend Tim Costello said poker machines led to the loss of much more than money in the Casey community.
“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives due to suicide,” Rev Costello said. “Then there is the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and much more due to gambling harm.”
“We call on the Victorian Government to outlaw the predatory and addictive features on poker machines that trick people into believing they are winning when they are actually losing money,” he said.
Bad Bets Australia spokesman Rowan Wenn said the gambling industry was deliberately “set up” to take money from the vulnerable who sought an “escape” in pokies machines.