By Alesha Capone
Pokier machines in Wyndham earned more than $61.62 million in the 2020-21 financial year.
The figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) were released last week.
During the 2019-20 financial year, poker machine players in Wyndham lost more than $75.75 million.
The VCGLR data did not include earnings from April to October 2020, when poker machine venues were shut due to pandemic restrictions.
The municipality which lost the most to electronic gambling machines was Brimbank, where the machines made more than $92.07 million in the 12 months to June 2021.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has called for a reduction in poker machine venue operating hours, after the pandemic lockdown demonstrated how people spend fewer hours on the machines when they are unable to attend venues.
Alliance chief advocate, Reverend Tim Costello, said it was “past time” that gambling harm was addressed as a serious public health issue.
“We shouted from the rooftops that losses would increase after lockdowns eased,” Rev Costello said.
“It’s simply absurd that Victoria has the worst pokies opening hours in Australia at a ridiculous 20 hours a day.
“We cannot ignore the harm they are doing any longer, our communities cannot afford it.”
Gambling reform advocate Anna Bardsley, who lost 10 years of her life to poker machines, said gambling harm “has so many close connections to public health issues such as mental ill-health, domestic violence, homelessness and other stressors such as family breakdowns.”
Wyndham is home to a total of 902 electronic gambling machines across 13 venues.
For free, confidential Gambler’s Help services, call 1800 858 858 or see gamblershelp.com.au/