Queensland Government Reveals Alarming Pokie Losses

The Queensland Government has laid out a four-year plan for gambling reform after releases some eye-boggling pokiies figuers.

The Queensland government released gaming machine data this week, and it makes alarming reading. Pubs and clubs around Queensland turned pokies back on in July 2020 after a three-month lockdown, and players flocked to them in droves.

Queensland residents pumped almost $300 million into pokies in July 2020, a 31.5% increase from July 2019. From July through to December, each month saw double-digit increases in losses except November, which only saw an 8.5% increase.

Figures show Queenslanders lost $2.8 billion to pokies in the past 12 months. That is an astronomical sum and one that has resulted in the Queensland government taking action.

Queensland Pokies Loss Figures

Month 2019 Pokies Earnings Month 2020 Pokies Earnings Increase
July 2019 $222,659,461 July 2020 $292,846,170 31.5%
August 2019 $230,260,271 August 2020 $279,503,945
September 2019 $204,135,184 Sepetember 2020 $245,107,192 20.1%
October 2019 $212,496,416 October 2020 $246,540,280
November 2019 $207,490,489 November 2020 $225,160,460 8.5%
December 2019 $210,115,814 December 2020 $253,783,875 20.7%

Alex Russell is a gambling researcher at Central Queensland University. Dr Russell believes he knows why the losses are so significant.

“When a lot of venues reopened, money went straight into pokies. Australia is a bit unusual in that we have pokies in pubs and clubs, whereas most countries don’t. So it was very easy to go to the pub, catch up with a mate, and then go spend some money on pokies because a lot of other recreational things were not available.

Dr Russell says Queensland needs to be more proactive in helping problem gamblers instead of being reactive.

“A lot of people think they have it under control, and then something really bad happens, and by the time they realise they need help, it’s already a bit too late. Imagine there is a dangerous situation – say it’s a cliff. We can put a fence at the top of the cliff to stop people falling off it, or we can let people fall off and fix them up at the bottom. At the moment, we have an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. We wait until people have problems and fix them up after.”

Government Announces Four-Year Plan

The Queensland Government this week announced a four-year plan to minimise gambling harm. The project sees administrators focus on industry social responsibility, in addition to implementing technology to prevent gambling harm.

Up to 70% of Queensland residents gamble, according to the latest figures. However, only a minority are considered at risk of harm.

Queensland Attorney General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman spoke powerfully about the four-year plan.

“We all have a role to play in supporting Queenslanders to gamble safely. There is no doubt that gambling is a complex social issue that not only impact the gambler themselves, but their family, workplace, and the wider community.”

“The harm can also have a ripple effect across all aspects of life. With relationships, mental health, and finances falling victim. The most recent Queensland household gambling survey found that 70% of Queenslanders gamble. While only a small proportion of these people would be classified as problem gamblers, we need to ensure that all gamblers are protected from harm.”

Particular focus is on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who experience disproportionate harm from gambling. However, all Queenslanders, including young people, are included in the plan.

Shifting to Safer Gambling From Responsible Gambling

Victoria Thomson is the Commissioner for Liquor and Gaming. Thomson wants a shift from responsible gambling to safer gambling.

“There will be a shift from responsible gambling to a safe gambling framework that recognises there are safe levels of gambling activity and ways for the industry to provide safer gambling environments. We will only be able to achieve this through a collaborative and coordinated effort. Creating safe gambling environments that also include partnerships across sectors, venues, and gambling help service providers.”