From the Herald Sun, Saturday 7 March 2009
March 07, 2009 12:00am
POKIES king Bruce Mathieson's pockets are lined with gold after Victorian punters ploughed more than $700 million into his machines.
Victorian gamblers spent $1 billion at the 20 most popular venues from June 2005 - almost the same amount the Brumby Government reaped in gaming taxes last year.
The most popular venues were located in blue-collar outer council areas, with Moonee Valley, Whittlesea and Frankston among the most popular, boasting venues reaping almost $20 million a year.
In depth: Victoria's gambling stats (*pdf)
Skyways Taverner in Airport West (Moonee Valley council) topped the list with an astonishing $58.8 million, which gave each of its 100 pokie machines an average of $588,706 across the past three financial years.
The Plough Hotel in Mill Park (Whittlesea) was next with more than $54 million plunged into its 100 machines, an average $544,562 down each slot in that time.
Fifth-ranked Matthew Flinders in Chadstone was perhaps the most staggering - an average $901,827 lost on each machine, or $822 every day.
It comes after the Brumby Government released figures showing punters splurged a record $250 million into the pokies in December alone.
The 20 most lucrative venues in the state took $972 million, of which the Mathieson/Woolworths group pocketed $736 million.
Opposition gaming spokesman Michael O'Brien said the Government was being sneaky with its open and accountable style, and released detailed information only when it suited its purposes.
"This shows that John Brumby is only prepared to be transparent about pokies losses when he's interested in trying to raise billions more from the next pokies licences," Mr O'Brien said.
"This brings home exactly how much the Brumby Government's failure to implement responsible gaming has cost local communities."
The data comes as the Government prepares to break up the Tatts/Tabcorp duopoly from 2012 and allow pubs and clubs to apply for individual 10-year pokies licences from early next year.
Gaming Minister Tony Robinson's spokeswoman said pubs and clubs would get the chance to own and operate gaming machines, and have greater control over the industry and security.
"Currently, Tatts and Tabcorp determine where machines are located. They can move from venue to venue in search of the most profitable location," she said.
- Nick Higginbottom and Stephen McMahon