Concerns Mount in Australia Over US$7.7bn in Slots Losses in One Year

  • There are calls to create a national gambling harm regulator in the country
  • The average person playing slots in Victoria lost AU$2,800 (US$1,900) in the 2021-22 fiscal year
  • Alliance for Gambling Reform believes that gambling losses are only going to rise
  • Gaming machines are very prominent across Australia including in clubs and pubs
slot machines
There are concerns in Australia over new research that shows that gamblers’ slot machine losses in Australia were over AU$11.4bn (US$7.7bn) in the 2021-2022 financial year. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Concerning figures

Responsible gambling advocates have expressed concerns about the high level of gambling activity in Australia. New research has revealed that Australians lost more than AU$11.4bn (US$7.7bn) in just one year playing slot machines, which are known locally as pokies.

create a national gambling harm regulator in the country

The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s chief advocate is calling on the federal government as well as the provincial states to create a national gambling harm regulator in the country.

The level of slots losses in New South Wales and Victoria were down by about 17% compared to pre-pandemic levels. This was largely attributed, though, to pandemic-related restrictions and closures.

No end in sight

The level of slots losses for the 2021-2022 financial year in Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland were all higher than the 2018-2019 figures. Just looking at Victoria, people lost more than AU$2.2bn (US$1.5bn) playing slot machines in the 2021-2022 financial year. The average slot player in the province lost about AU$2,800 (US$1,900) during that period.

Monash University’s Gambling and Social Determinants Unit compiled the figures, mainly looking at gaming machines at clubs and pubs, but not at any casinos. Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate Tim Costello believes that gaming machine losses are only going to rise, despite people dealing with inflation and higher cost of living expenses.

Researchers looked at available data for gaming machine profits and surveys on gaming machine usage to determine a rough number of slots players per state and the average loss per user.

He believes that gambling levels will likely increase as stress levels rise because: “People literally either get some relief from sitting in the zone in front of the machine, or they have a belief: I’m stuffed anyway, I can’t pay the rent or the mortgage anyway, but the pokies are maybe a shot.”

A widespread issue

Costello believes that a national gambling harm regulator could properly look into the health, social, and financial consequences associated with slot machine activity in Australia. Gaming machines are found all across the country, especially in the likes of clubs and pubs.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is a non-profit and non-governmental group that seeks to have gambling addiction treated as a public health issue.

As anti-money laundering laws and systems get stricter at the country’s casinos, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission believes that criminals and gambling addicts could turn their focus to gambling at clubs and pubs instead where there is much less oversight.