Australians Betting (And Losing) On Pokies Due To High Costs of Life
Australians are losing billions of dollars more to playing on land-based pokie machines than they were before the pandemic. In the state of New South Wales, an average of approximately $22m (NZ$ 23,38m) was lost to pokie machines each day during the first half year of 2023, totalling $3,9bn (NZ$ 4,14bn).
The reason for the higher number of Australians turning to gambling on pokie machines is remarkable: the high cost-of-living crisis in the country. According to experts, people in the country are desperate and consider “gambling as an opportunity to earn money”.
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Losses Higher Than Before Covid
Different analysis shows that pokie machine losses in some states in the country were up to 34% higher than during the financial year of 2018-19, the last year that was hit by corona related lockdowns closing down brick and mortar casinos. Analysis by Monash University found residents in New South Wales lost $8,07bn (NZ$ 8,57bn) to pokie machines last financial year, which was a 23% increase on the $6.5bn (NZ$ 6,91bn) recorded in 2018-19. In Queensland, losses to gambling went up to more than 33%, whilst in South Australia they saw an increase of 34%. NSW gaming machine losses average $22m (NZ$ 23,38m) a day with some states seeing their numbers going up with 30% in comparison with pre-corona data.
Increase in Losses Across Different States
Analysis by Monash University’s gambling and social determinants unit found NSW residents lost $8,07bn (NZ$ 8,57bn) to pokie machines during last financial year, which was a 23% increase on the $6,5bn (NZ$ 6,91 bn) recorded in 2018-19. The increase of losses due to pokies was even more significant in the state of Queensland, where residents lost $3.24bn (NZ$ 3,44 bn) last financial year compared to $2,42bn (NZ$ 2,57 bn) in 2018-19 – an increase of more than 33%. In the state of Victoria, losses increased by 12% to $3bn (NZ$ 3,19 bn) whilst in South Australia, losses increased with 34%, representing a total value of $917m (NZ$ 974m).
People who are desperate turn to extreme measures. Some people in these situations consider gambling, and pokie machines in particular, as an opportunity to win real money. Then there is also the problem that people under stress are known to be more likely to get into problem gambling. Making wagers on a pokie machine is often considered as a way to temporarily lower the stress.
Charles Livingstone, Monash University associate professor
Rev Stu Cameron, the chief executive of the charity organisation Wesley Mission, has gone through the data provided by the state of NSW and fears more problems. The money lost on gambling should have been used for different means, “helping families to get out of the cost-of-living crisis. Instead, a lot of money was spilled to activities that are offered by what he refers to as a “harmful and predatory sector”. The pain of broken families and the harm caused to the people behind these stats is huge and should not be underestimated.
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Number of Pokie Machines Has Increased
Cameron adds that the “losses of this scale emphasise the importance of a well-balanced and effective gambling reform in the country and the gambling addiction prevention applied by licencees”. In Australia both land-based venues and online casinos are allowed and legalised. International online casinos have found their way to Australia as well, land-based venues are mainly operated by local gambling operators. The number of pokie machines in the state of NSW is reported to have gone up from 86,650 to 87,298 last financial year, which stands for an overall increase of 648 machines throughout the state. This increase is widely seen as “concerning” if taking into account that the number of bricks and mortar venues in the state has dropped since 2019. The new number therefore indicates there is a growing concentration of pokie machines in some areas.
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The outcomes of pokie machines are based on randomness and skills or experience cannot make a difference or help people make money in the long term. Short term wins can occur as the outcome is fully based on luck. Pokies, whether offline or online pokies, should be never seen as a means to get out of financial problems.