Gambling in Victoria, Australia

When one thinks of the Great Southern Land, one hardly associates the term'Gambling Capital' with our wide-open spaces and pristine coastlines.Why is it, then, that approximately 82% of adult Australians gamble – the highest current rate in the world?Gambling has become a progressively predominant, but clandestine problem in Australia, with Victoria now leading the way in being the state most heavily reliant on gambling revenue.Government figures released in this years budget show that Victoria will collect about $1.4 billion in gambling taxes this financial year, a figure that represents more than $300 for every person in the state.Similarly, gambling expenditures (losses) more than doubled per capita in real terms in Australia over the past decade. They trebled in Victoria.This, combined with the increasingly critical circumstances surrounding problem gamblers, gives rise to the question of whether the number of gambling opportunities in Victoria should be reduced.

Whilst gambling comes in many forms, it is clear that poker machines are at the head of Victoria's gambling problem. These destructive mechanisms have now overtaken all other forms of gambling, and in the last financial year alone, Victorians spent $6.5 million a day on poker machines, which is about nine times the amount lost in 1992-93, when poker machines werefirst introduced.Indeed – pokie taxes have become a crucial source of revenue for the Victorian Government. More than 11 per cent of State Government taxes come from poker machines, and it is anticipated that this will exceed $900 million this financial year (2002/3).

It has been estimated that in the light of the increase in gambling expenditure, problem gamblers account for one-third of all gambling and 42 per cent of poker machine gambling.Additionally, the Productivity Commission report found that 2.3% of adult Australians have extensive gambling problems, losing more th…

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