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Victoria Gambling Down During 2019-2020 Fiscal Year
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation tracks and reports on gaming expenditures within the territory. Monthly figures are available, but the most recent report reflects the entire 2019-2020 fiscal year.
For that year, expenditures decreased by a very significant 26.33%. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic is partially responsible for some of the decrease, and these figures only track state-regulated land-based and online gambling.
Release of Annual Gaming Figures
On August 6, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) revealed that the total gaming expenditure in Victoria for 2019-2020 was exactly $1,988,211,121.12. And that was down 26.33% from the previous fiscal year.
VCGLR Licensing Director Alex Fitzpatrick noted that the pandemic-induced state of emergency resulted in the closing of gambling venues from March 16 through June. This did have a significant impact on the overall numbers.
The breakdowns of data, however, show that there was already a gambling slowdown in effect before the Covid-19 orders.
Electronic Gaming Machine Expenditures
The VCGLR delivers detailed data for electronic gaming machine local-level expenditures by LGA and region. It records the player losses per month, along with the number of EGMs and number of venues.
As mentioned, the full fiscal year total loss for players exceeded $1.988 billion. However, it’s interesting to see the totals as the fiscal year progressed:
- July 2019 = $235,729,591
- August 2019 = $244,531,431
- September 2019 = $225,165,076
- October 2019 = $234,291,077
- November 2019 = $233,092,242
- December 2019 = $234,380,122
- January 2020 = $224,222,482
- February 2020 = $214,893,329
- March 2020 = $141,885,235
- April 2020 = $0
- May 2020 = $0
- June 2020 = $0
Throughout the fiscal year, there were EGMs at 492 venues each month, only reduced to 491 in February and to 490 in March. The number of machines in each locality ranged from 26,386 to 26,476.
The first half of the fiscal year already showed a decrease that continued into the first two months of 2020. The March number threw everything off, though, because the pandemic suddenly figured into the trend.
Taking it down one more level, the top local areas for gambling losses were:
- Brimbank = $101,974,223
- Casey = $98,000,778
- Whittlesea = $91,066,518
- Greater Geelong = $89,137,264
- Greater Dandenong = $87,430,092
- Hume = $85,935,114
- Monash = $80,541,622
- Wyndham = $75,755,561
- Shire of Mornington Peninsula = $63,053,341
- Kingston = $62,080,320
- Melbourne = $60,550,927
VRGF Extends Outreach
The pandemic might seem like a good opportunity for players to take a break from gambling. Many, however, discovered online gambling or increased the amount of play at internet gaming sites for poker and a variety of casino games.
The vast majority of players at these sites treat gambling as a recreational activity. There are some with addiction problems that took them to any form of gambling they could find during the pandemic.
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) tried to stay ahead of any problems for players and extended its reach to more players during the pandemic. CEO Shane Lucas explained the ways that the VRGF was expanding opportunities to help Victorians over the past few months.
As casino closures continued for months, the VRGF acknowledged that some people gambled online for the first time during the pandemic and others logged on with greater frequency. The organization urged players to consider online gambling limits and self-imposed credit card blocks for gambling transactions.
Becoming a Supply Nation Member
This week, the VRGF announced it became a member of Supply Nation, a database of verified Indigenous businesses and products.
The partnership with Supply Nation allows the VRGF to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. It is a part of the Reconciliation Action Plan to support those businesses. The organization already engaged with 18 of those businesses in the 2019-2020 financial year. The goal is to increase that number significantly going forward.
Further, the VRGF may be able to make its presence known and reach new people in communities that are traditionally underserved by gambling help organizations. Outreach to these communities through the businesses may allow the VRGF to prevent more gambling harm.
This commitment to Supply Nation may also allow the VGRF to further its message in October for Gambling Harm Awareness Week. This year will mark the third year of focused awareness in October, and this may present an opportunity to reach more people in Indigenous regions.