The amount of money lost by gambling patrons continues to rise in Ballarat, new figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Registration show.
Gaming patrons lost more than $57.54 million to electronic gaming machines in the City of Ballarat in the 2018/19 financial year, according to data released on Friday.
The figure is up on expenditure in the 2017/18 financial year which was recorded at more than $55.76 million.
City of Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates has been vocal in her opposition to the pokies and said it was causing the community harm.
"The trend is year after year losses from pokies venues is going up," she said.
"We know that gambling impacts on mental health and it is a public health issue for communities. Yet year after year successive state governments who have the power to act on this issue and reduce the harm by making it a public health issue don't.
"It has been many years that gambling advocates and the productivity commission have recommended things like $1 bet limits, bans on cash withdrawals at venues and greater power for councils to reduce pokies numbers."
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There were 14 approved and operating gambling venues in Ballarat in June 2019, one less than previous years, according to Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Registration data.
The figures show there were 639 electronic gaming machines, also down on the previous year's figure of 657.
The Courier understands this drop can be attributed to the closure of the Miners Tavern.
Cr Coates said she would like to see council be able to reduce the number of pokies machines at venues.
"At the moment we have a state government cap that local councils don't have control over. One dollar bet limits is something local councils have been advocating on for many years as well," she said.
The amount of money lost by gaming patrons in Ballarat is higher than in the City of Greater Bendigo which was recorded as $50.67 million in the last financial year.
The total loss on gambling machines for all of Victoria was $2.698 billion in the 2018/19 financial year.
"This means on average, Victorian adults lost $530 on the pokies in the past financial year," said the Rev Tim Costello, Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman.
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