10 March 2009

Victorians lose $2.6bn on poker machines

Interesting piece by Stephen Mayne in Crikey about gambling in Victoria. He links to stories in The Age ( "Victorians lose $2.6 bn on poker machines") and The Herald Sun ("Victoria's most popular suburbs for poker machines"). The latter has a link to a table of Victorian gaming expenditure data for 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 .

Mayne pays special attention to the Woolworths involvement in the gambling industry ("extreme capitalism" is his term):

We know that Woolworths is the 22nd biggest retailer in the world and has mastered the art of cornering key segments of the Australian market, whether it be groceries, grog, petrol, fresh fruit, tobacco or pokies.

But who would ever have thought it would be so efficient at exploiting Victorian pokies addicts in working class suburbs? The figures revealed the 20 most lucrative Victorian pokies venues ripped $926 million out of pokies players in the three years to 30 June, 2008, and Woolworths snaffled a staggering $736 million or 79.5%.

He also criticises The Age and The Herald Sun, both of whom derive much advertising revenue from Woolworths, for their reluctance to mention the company (the former's story doesn't name it, the latter's does so but once).

Mayne doesn't mention the ABC, which has no advertising revenue to lose: it seems not to have reported the story, though the ABC News gambling tag links to several other stories from Victoria and elsewhere. I've done a quick
Google search and can't find any other media reports, which reflects how newsworthy those who shape our media, and perhaps their readers and viewers, see it.

That said, it would be good to see comparative statistics from other states and territories.

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