Millions lost on Seymour pokies
Last financial year (2017-18) was very good for the pokies operators in Seymour.
According to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, both the Railway Hotel with its 33 machines and the Seymour Club with its 50 machines helped Seymour punters lose record amounts.
At the Seymour Club, $3 958 739 was lost, and at the Railway Hotel, $3 107 581 was lost. These are the amounts that were lost, not just spent on the machines.
Seymour has a total population of 6327. Its population of adults (20+ years) is 4914.
So, this town of 4914 adults lost a little more than $7 million last year, an average of $1437 per person.
But of course, many adults in Seymour do not have anything to do with the pokies.
Following a recent survey by the Victorian Government, it was reported that only about 16 per cent of the adult population of Victoria play the pokies at all.
Although the survey figures for individual towns are not available, if we presume that 16 per cent of Seymour adults dabble with the pokies here, that $7 million loss is shared among only 786 people, a staggering average loss of $8987 per pokies playing person.
Of course, visitors to Seymour also play our pokies, and Seymour residents play the pokies in other places. So, the average loss estimate may be a little larger or smaller than $8987, but it is nevertheless very high.
So, where does all this money go?
There is a somewhat complex Victorian Government tax regime applied to pokies, and the tax arrangements for hotels differ from those for clubs.
However, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, a statutory authority, advises that, on average across Victoria, about 35 per cent of pokie losses collected by the operators is paid to the government.
The remainder goes to the operators.
The Seymour Club and the Melbourne-based Black Rhino hotel chain that owns the Railway Hotel do very well from the millions of dollars our local gamblers lose. — John Thompson, Seymour