In the 2016/17 financial year, $107 million was lost on the pokies by residents of the City of Whittlesea. That is nearly $700 for every adult resident. Placed in one of our local hotels, a poker machine makes about $200,000 per year. That is three times the median Whittlesea household income.
The Epping Plaza Hotel is not only the biggest venue in our area but also the biggest venue in Victoria. In 2016/17 residents recorded loosing almost $21,000,000 every year or $60,000 per day just in this venue. This has been the annual average for the past 3 years. Other local venues like the Plough Hotel in Mill Park, the Bundoora Taverner in Bundoora and the Excelsior in Thomastown are in the top ten most profitable venues in the state. We know this information because it is publicly available.
As shown by the statistics provided by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation post June 2013, there has been a steady increase in losses by Whittlesea residents. Approximately 40% of this money was lost by problem gamblers. There are both mental and physical health risks associated with problem gambling and in extreme cases can lead to family violence, mental illness and drug or alcohol use.
To put into perspective the total amount of losses experienced, the same amount of money could pay for new school shoes for every primary school student in Australia, new health services and schools in our growing suburb or another kilometre of railway line towards Epping North.
Furthermore, gambling does not create more jobs within our community. Pokies are a very low employment return industry and limit growth in local areas. Eating out at a local restaurant alone would create more jobs and a more positive impact on the community.
So let’s QUIT POKIES and put the health and wealth back into Whittlesea!