Central Victoria pokies takings buck trend

CENTRAL Victoria has experienced a drop in  money lost at poker machines over the past six months, bucking a recent trend.

Expenditure figures show there will be more than 

$1.1 million less lost at central Victorian pokies in the 2012-13 financial year if spending continues as it has for the first six months.

This figure includes $315,811.17 put into 25 new machines at the Foundry Complex since they were installed on August 16 last year. If the trend continues, is will be first time in recent years there has been less money lost at the pokies than the previous year.

More than $88 million less in expenditure is projected to be lost across the state if the trend continues.

Bendigo Stadium chief executive officer Eric Pascoe attributed the decrease in expenditure to the ban on ATM facilities in poker machine venues.

“Our revenues are in line with what we’ve seen statewide,” he said.

“We’re down a little bit on previous years.

“We removed two ATMs from our venue in July because of (Victorian) government legislation and that (the decrease in net expenditure on pokies) times perfectly with the past six months.” He said patrons could still access money, but only via an employee-assisted cashpoint behind the bar.

“The volumes going through that EFTPOS-style cashpoint are less than what was going through the ATMs,” Mr Pascoe said.

He also said the popularity of smartphone and online gambling sites may have reduced the number of people attending pokies venues.

But St Luke Anglicare’s senior manager of community programs Phil Eddy said the trend was probably reflective of a decrease in the amount of recreational gamblers, rather than problem gamblers.

“I think it’s a reflection of the current economy,” he said. 

“When it’s tight the people that gamble recreationally... are pulling their belts in and don’t spend as much on recreational gambling.

“The issue with problem gamblers (is that) they are so addicted to these insidious machines I would imagine they would still be representing a big part of the money going into the pokies.”

The figures come weeks before a decision is expected by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on the Maryborough Highland Society’s application for 65 more poker machines.

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