Nationals MP Gaelle Broad has urged residents of Northern Victoria to make a submission to the current gambling inquiry, amid concerns over massive gaming losses in regional areas.
“As regional Victorians are disproportionately affected by problem gambling, I encourage people living in our region to make a submission before the closing date of Friday 7 July 2023,” Ms Broad said.
The inquiry is being run by Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, with plans to hold public hearings in late July and report to Parliament in November 2023.
Ms Broad was speaking in Parliament on two gambling Bills – one aimed at better tax arrangements for Crown Casino, and the other relating to the racing industry.
But she was also keen to highlight the major challenges caused by electronic gaming machines in regional areas.
“To the end of March this financial year, residents within the City of Greater Bendigo have already lost a massive $45 million on electronic gaming machines,” Ms Broad said.
“Australians have the highest rates of gambling losses per adult in the world, with a loss of $1277 per year on gambling for the average Australian.
“One in five Victorians who gamble may experience harm from gambling. Victorians lost $2.2 billion at the pokies in the 2021–22 financial year, and the heaviest pokie losses occur in the most disadvantaged areas.”
Ms Broad said the harm caused by gambling addiction was considerable, affecting family members, friends, local businesses and communities.
Ms Broad said gambling addiction could snowball from issues such as broken relationships, poor health, financial pressures and social isolation.
“I met with the team at Anglicare recently as they run one of the largest financial counselling teams in Victoria and help people with problem gambling. They told me of a lady who stole money from her workplace to fund her gambling addiction. As a result, family relationships have broken down, she lost her job and spent time in prison, and now needs to rebuild her life with a criminal record.”
“Research shows that vulnerable people on low incomes suffer the most harm from gambling.”
Ms Broad said, “The danger of gambling revenue in this state is a dependence on it when the income contributes to the government coffers, because it reduces the incentive for the government to monitor the harmful effects of gambling.”
Ms Broad said she was also concerned by reports of gambling behaviour during the pandemic, where those most at risk of gambling-related harm were young men aged 18 to 34.
“These young men were the most likely to sign up for new online betting accounts – increasing the frequency and monthly spend on gambling and risk of harm.
“A study undertaken for Anglicare Victoria also found that young people were between two and four times more likely to be problem gamblers than adults.”
Ms Broad said the issue of gambling advertising during sports coverage is concerning, when 30 to 40 per cent of the AFL’s income comes from gambling.
Anyone worried about harm caused by gambling can visit gamblershelp.com.au or phone 1800 858 858.
Details of the inquiry, including how to make a submission, can be found at: