More money was lost on poker machines at the Epping Plaza Hotel than any other gaming venue in Victoria, new data reveals.
Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation figures show that $20.2 million was lost at the hotel in 2018-19.
The figure is down slightly from the $20.8 million lost at the venue in 2017-18.
The Epping Plaza Hotel was one of four Whittlesea venues in the top 10 venues for gaming losses in the state in 2018-19.
The Plough Hotel was third with $19.5 million lost, while the Bundoora Taverna was seventh ($17.9 million) and the Excelsior Hotel 10th ($16.4 million).
One Hume venue – the Gladstone Park Hotel – made the list, with $17.7 million lost.
Overall, $110.9 million was lost at Whittlesea venues and $111.7 million was lost at Hume venues.
Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello said he was appalled by the data.
“I’m astounded to see the people of Whittlesea being taken advantage of to this extent, with four out of the top 10 losses at venues recorded in Victoria,” he said.
“This is a serious concern for many reasons, not least being that poker machines lead to the loss of much more than money in the Whittlesea community.
“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives due to suicide. Then there is the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and much more due to gambling harm.”
Gambling reform advocate Anna Bardsley said she longed for the day when she could drive around Whittlesea without seeing signs for pokies everywhere.
“We are better than this as a state. We currently have one of the most progressive governments ever, yet we have these reprehensible machines sucking money out of people, causing immense harm,” she said.