BALLARAT’S gaming machines losses have risen by more than $1 million in the last financial year.
The latest Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation figures show Ballarat’s pokies expenditure in 2013-14 was $53,642,392, compared with $52,533,913 in 2012-13.
One new venue has opened in Ballarat in that time, taking the total number of venues to 15.
Ballarat Action on Gambling Harm group member Deb Greenslade said the drop in the 2012-13 financial year was largely attributed to the removal of ATMs from gaming machine venues.
“But then gamblers got used to it and to an EFTPOS-type system instead,” Ms Greenslade said, adding EFTPOS had no limits attached, unlike ATMs.
“The ‘ATM effect’ wasn’t permanent,” she said.
Ms Greenslade said too much emphasis was placed on individuals self-regulating, rather than making practical changes such as limiting bets to $1 and mandatory pre-commitments.
“They don’t do that with any other health issue. Look at road safety. They build safer cars and make the roads safer but, with poker machines, they put all their eggs in one basket,” she said.
“These figures show whatever has been done before isn’t enough. We’ve had 22 years of this, how much more does Ballarat have to suffer?
“We do need less machines but that’s not going to happen. We need machine changes. We need to make machines safer.”
A Greens bill was tabled in state parliament last month to introduce a maximum $1 bet spin.
The Coalition government has also pledged to introduce pre-commitment technology on gaming machines by the end of next year.