Melton pokies losses hit $66 million

By Laura Michell

Gamblers lost more than $210,000 a day at poker machine venues across Melton and Moorabool, new data reveals.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation recently released statewide pokies loss figures for the 2017-18 financial year, revealing that $66.1 million was lost at Melton’s venues.

The municipality’s gambling losses rose  8 per cent from 2016-17, when $61.2 million was lost at Melton’s seven poker machine venues.

The WestWaters Hotel had the municipality’s highest poker machine losses ($13.4 million), followed by Mac’s Hotel ($11.6 million).

In Moorabool, punters lost $11.9 million, up 5 per cent from $11,4 million in 2016-17.

Bacchus Marsh’s Court House Hotel recorded the highest losses ($4.8 million), followed by Maddingley’s Stoney’s Club ($3.3 million).

Statewide, losses were the highest in a decade, totalling $2.7 billion.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello said he was “deeply disturbed” by the figures.

He said it was clear poker machines were harming the community and poker machine legislation needed to be reformed.

The alliance is calling for all political parties to commit to no new poker machine approvals, the mandatory shutdown of poker machine venues between 2-8am, and for machines to be limited to $1 maximum bets per spin, have slower spinning rates and remove losses disguised as wins, ahead of the state election.

It also wants the maximum daily cash withdrawal limit at gaming venues to be reduced from $500 to $200 and for the duty of care for venues and staff to be strengthened to prevent customer harm.

“We need urgent reform to prevent the needless suicides, family violence, bankruptcy and fraud which flows when $2.7 billion a year is ripped from the community through addictive poker machines in 470 suburban pubs and clubs,” Mr Costello said.