BALLARAT’S poker machine losses increased by nearly $3 million in the last six months of 2013.
From July to December last year, $28.172 million was lost through pokies, compared to $25.444 million from January to June.
However, figures from the the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation also show that Ballarat is betting far less than Geelong, which recorded an overall six-month loss of $56.234 million.
But the statistics also show Ballarat is worse than Bendigo, which lost $23.97 million.
Across Victoria, almost $1.3 billion was lost, compared to $1.19 billion in the previous six months.
The worst local government area in the state was the City of Greater Dandenong, where almost $57 million was put through the pokies in the half-year period.
Ballarat City councillor Des Hudson said the council’s controversial Ballarat Gaming Policy Framework, aimed at concentrating poker machines in the CBD rather than more vulnerable suburban areas, had yet to be tested due to a lack of new applications.
“There’s only been a handful of machines up for relocation,” Cr Hudson said.
“But with this increase in spending, we need to continue working with the various venues to ensure problem gamblers have access to gambling services.”
Cr Hudson said talks with the state government had also made it clear they were “resolute” in keeping Ballarat’s poker machine cap at 663.
“When the ATMs were taken out of venues, there was an initial decrease in spending, but people have obviously modified their behaviour and understand now they have to have access cash beforehand, which is a concern.”