July proved a bumper month for Geelong’s gaming operators, with residents spending $10.67 million on poker machines.
The latest figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation show that pokies raked in a daily average of $344,208 throughout the region.
It is the biggest month for the city’s gaming venues since December 2008, when punters parted with a record $11.33 million.
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“Geelong is suffering from pokies losses that are rising at almost double the state average,” said Tim Costello of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
“It is shocking to think that it is becoming common for losses to exceed $10 million in a single month.
“Across the state, losses have jumped by $81 million in the first seven months of 2018 to a record $1.562 billion, but in July alone the 7 per cent increase in Geelong was almost double the 3.9 per cent statewide increase.
“Increased losses mean rising harm, family violence, suicide, financial hardship and crime, which is particularly disturbing when you consider Geelong was the recent host of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation conference focusing on addressing gambling harm.”
With demand for pokies at an all-time high, Geelong RSL has applied for permission to add another 30 machines at its Belmont venue.
The City of Greater Geelong is encouraging members of the public to share their thoughts on whether or not the application should be granted.
“The key objective of the city’s electronic gaming policy is to reduce the negative impacts of gambling and to ensure any decisions around gambling do not have a detrimental impact on our community,” said Fiona Reidy, acting director of the city’s Community Life department.
“We’d encourage all community members and organisations to have their say on the application.”
The Geelong city council’s official website (geelongaustralia.com.au) is holding a public survey until September 4, after which a decision will be made on whether to submit Geelong RSL’s application to the VCGLR.