Pokies Cost Victorians $2.7B in 2018-2019

The news was stunning. The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation recently released the figures from the 2018-2019 financial year, and the amount spent on pokies had increased from the previous year.

The new figure of pokies expenditures was $2.699 billion.

Overall Numbers

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) published its annual gaming expenditure data for the previous financial year, which was from the first of July 2018 through the end of June 2019.

The amount that Victorians lost was $2.699 billion.

As compared to the previous years, it was not a significant increase, but it was notable.

2018-2019:  $2,698,707,179 ($3,423,154 more than previous year, 0.13% increase)

2017-2018:  $2,695,284,025 ($85,753,965 more than previous year, 3.29% increase)

2016-2017:  $2,609,530,060

The percentages are not as startling as the actual numbers, as $3.4 million is still a big number despite being less than a one percent increase.

Further, the past two years have seen increases despite more initiatives and funding for responsible gambling programs and problem gambling assistance.

Locality Breakdowns

There are 492 clubs and hotels that offer pokies in Victoria, and the totals are broken down by the 57 separate local government areas in the VCGLR report. Those numbers are actually provided on a monthly basis.

To more closely examine the data, let’s take the month of July 2019.

The City of Greater Geelong has the most electronic gaming machines of all of the 57 government areas.

  • Number of pokies: 1,304
  • Number of venues: 26
  • Total player loss in July 2019: $9,440,064.53 ($7,239.31 per machine)
  • Total 2019 player loss: $120,385,434.81 ($92,320.12 per machine)

The City of Greater Dandenong has the second-highest number:

  • Number of pokies: 957
  • Number of venues: 15
  • Total player loss in July 2019: $9,418,237.08 ($9,841.42 per machine)
  • Total 2019 player loss: $119,311,877.93 ($124,672.81 per machine)

The City of Monash is a close third place:

  • Number of pokies: 955
  • Number of venues: 15
  • Total player loss in July 2019: $8,946,838.35 ($9,358.42 per machine)
  • Total 2019 player loss: $110,209,894.94 ($115,403.03 per machine)

Of course, the outcomes of these breakdowns depend very much on the location of the venues, the income average of the patrons, and even the location of the pokies in the venues. However, it gives some perspective as to the amount of money spent per machine in the various areas.

Data also varies by month due to seasonal changes. For example, in the City of Greater Geelong, July 2018 showed $10,670,474 in losses across all venues, but that number was only $8,873,166 in February 2019. A number of societal and season differences can affect the trends.


The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation is the statutory authority created by the Victorian government to try to reduce the amount of gambling harm in the area. VRGF reports to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation.

It was created in 2011 with the vision of making Victoria a place free from gambling-related harm. The mission statement sums up its goals:

“To improve the health and wellbeing of Victorians by working with our communities and government to deliver effective, evidence-based initiatives and innovative approaches to prevent gambling harm and provide support for those seeking help.”

Recent Research

The most recent major initiative from VRGF came from its research agenda for 2018-2022.

Through significant and detailed research, the hope is to obtain a base of evidence around gambling that enables the organization to reduce and prevent harm in a more focused and thoughtful way.

Through partnerships with universities and local organizations, the most recent studies have focused on the following topics:

  • Testing the feasibility and effectiveness of an action-plan based intervention regarding gamblers sticking to their limits at pokie venues
  • Effects of exposure to gambling and online gaming activities for children and adolescents
  • Mapping the social networks of low-risk and moderate-risk gamblers for potentially risky behaviors like gambling and alcohol consumption

Initiatives from VRGF

The most recent initiative to emerge from the research done by the foundation was a program to teach parents how to identify signs of problem gambling and to talk to their children about the issue.

The rollout of the program took place in March at 12 schools in Victoria. In partnership with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, the VRGF targeted parents of children from 12 to 17 years of age at metro and regional schools.

Parents were informed about everything from lingo involved in the gaming community to features of video games and online gaming. This includes information about the technology used for gaming.

The goal has been to identify behaviors that may put young people on a slippery slope to gambling, thereby stopping any problems with real-money gambling before they start.

The results of such a program will be based on long-term studies, but the initiative is a start to address issues in the hopes of preventing problems in the years to come.


Rose Varrelli

Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she’s been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!


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