According to recent figures published by the State Government of Australia, casino players in the city of Townsville wagered almost AU$1.5 million on pokie games in 2017. Players in the area spent a whopping total of $1,423,568 on the machines last year, coming as a significant increase over the amount spent on pokies the previous year.
The state government has also revealed that citizens of the coastal Australian city also lost around $100 million to pokie machines during the period in review. These findings have surfaced at a time when Australian pokie machines are being heavily scrutinised due to their highly addictive nature. The large amount of money wagered on these machines has also concerned authorities and civilians alike, with many now calling for a nationwide crackdown in an attempt to lower the country’s problem gambling rates.
This demand has indeed spawned a countrywide clampdown on the popular gambling machines, not to mention a huge campaign across all Australian states to impose stricter regulations on all forms of local gambling. Pokies in particular are blamed for offering ‘addictive features’ that persuade many punters to spend increasingly large amounts of money in these games.
Pokies Causing Serious Problems
For now, Townsville is home to 43 gambling venues that house 2,023 pokie machines. According to information from the state government, three of the city’s casinos featured the highest number of pokie machines in the metropolis: Brothers Leagues Club has 247 machines, Townsville RSL, 280, and The Cowboys Leagues Club, 298.
The data in the governmental report received comments from Gerard Burne, the operations manager of the Salvation Army’s recovery services. Burne noted that pokies are the machines causing the most serious societal problems, including high rates of problem gambling and gambling addiction. This in turn leads to depression and anxiety, according to Burne, who also highlighted that pokies’ earnings are far larger than those gained by any other form of gambling.
Low-Income Families Most At Risk
Late in 2017, the Salvation Army warned that pokies could cause significant harm in society, revealing that low-income players spend more on gambling than any other demographic. Burne noted that electronic gaming terminals also had a much wider impact, as an increasing number of people have turned to welfare associations for help with gambling issues. Apparently, some families of problem gamblers even rely fully on social welfare to stay alive.
The Salvation Army also noted back in October that many of the people who had asked for assistance and revealed their gambling spending between 2016 and 2017 were spending more than 8% of their incomes on wagering alone. Burne also explained that gambling addictions and increased pokies spending has affected many Australians’ jobs and personal lives, not to mention attracting many problem gamblers to a life of crime in order to support their habits.