Queensland Government Reports Record $5.1 Billion in Gambling Losses
Recently updated on September 22nd, 2023
Recent government data from Australia’s northeastern state has unveiled a significant increase in gambling losses. Gamblers in Queensland incurred losses exceeding AU$5 billion during the fiscal year 2022-2023, marking an 11.3% rise from the previous year’s AU$4.6 billion.
These figures also reveal that residents of the state have experienced an 18.6% surge in gambling losses compared to the pre-pandemic fiscal year, when losses amounted to just over AU$4.3 billion.
Australia’s Love for Pokies: Record Gambling Losses Revealed
Australia’s love for slot machines, affectionately known as ‘pokies,’ is no secret. Recent government data reaffirms this preference, with pokies accounting for a remarkable 63.2% of the total gambling losses. Over the past fiscal year, Australian gamblers bid farewell to around AU$3.2 billion while testing their luck on these gaming machines. In stark contrast, losses from casino gaming amounted to a relatively modest AU$800 million.
Lotteries also wielded significant influence in the nation’s gambling scene, contributing AU$642.1 million to the overall annual losses. Sports betting wasn’t far behind, adding AU$313.8 million to the substantial sum of money lost.
Yvette D’Ath, the Attorney-General of the northeastern state, suggests that multiple factors may have contributed to these record-breaking figures. These include shifts in local gambling expenditure patterns. D’Ath underscored that the local government has been proactive in addressing problem gambling, allocating a substantial AU$7.8 million from the state budget to support Gambling Help Queensland, a non-profit organization committed to providing free counselling and assistance to problem gamblers and their families.
Responding to the Issue: Queensland’s Tougher Measures
The Queensland government has taken a stance with stricter regulations affecting venues housing electronic gaming machines, as highlighted by the Attorney-General. Notably, there must be a minimum three-second interval between spins, and players are limited to inserting a maximum of AU$100 into a pokie machine at any given time.
Furthermore, pokie operators must adhere to a mandatory six-hour closure period from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., during which their machines must remain inactive. Remarkably, as of July, nearly 97% of pokie venues in the state have been compliant with this closure requirement. State authorities are actively pursuing the implementation of compulsory cashless gambling in local casinos for transactions exceeding AU$1,000.
There exists a mandated cap on the maximum number of gaming machines that club, and pub owners can operate. Additionally, a recent federal government amendment to the country’s gambling laws is poised to potentially prohibit the use of credit cards for funding online betting activities, subjecting non-compliant operators to significant fines. This ban on credit card use already applies to brick-and-mortar gambling establishments.
Carol Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, described the latest statistics as “incredible” and called for the introduction of additional measures to safeguard local communities against gambling-related harm and substantial losses. Bennett surmised that the record losses might stem from the financial struggles faced by many residents, who sought to recover some of their money.
In response, Clubs Queensland issued a statement emphasizing that machines in their member clubs are not operated for internal profit but rather for the betterment of their host communities. Registered clubs allocate substantial sums to charitable causes annually and provide funding for local sports teams. The organization underscored its member clubs’ commitment to responsible gambling practices and ensuring patrons engage with their machines in a controlled manner.
Conclusion: Queensland’s Ongoing Gambling Challenge
As Queensland grapples with soaring gambling losses, the government and various stakeholders are taking proactive steps to address the issue. The latest data paints a concerning picture of increased gambling losses, particularly in the realm of pokies. However, it’s heartening to see efforts to combat problem gambling through stricter regulations, support for problem gamblers, and responsible gaming initiatives.