Aussies are big gamblers

Australians in the state of Victoria lived up to a reputation for being serious gamblers over the past year, according to statistics released this week by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation which show that gamblers lost A$ 4.87 billion in the year to June 2008 on poker machines, lotteries, table games and sports betting.

State coffers benefitted significantly by garnering A$1.58 billion in gambling taxes.

Of that, A$1.58 billion flowed into government coffers in taxes and levies, the report, tabled in state parliament on Wednesday, shows.

Criticising the state government, the Victorian chapter of the Liberal Party of Australia said in a statement that the Commission's report demonstrates an over-reliance on gambling revenue to fund basic services.

The Shadow Minister for Gaming, Michael O'Brien, referred media to Appendix 14 of the 2007-08 Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation Annual Report, saying, "...the reality of Labor's handling of the gaming portfolio - in 2007-08 Victorians lost a record A$4.87 billion on all forms of gambling, and they paid Premier John Brumby a record A$1.58 billion in taxes for the privilege."

He added: "Labor is now so dependent on gambling to fund basic services that its gaming tax collections are around the same as Victoria Police's annual budget.

"Victorians don't want police numbers dependent on pokie numbers. Hospital beds shouldn't rely on horse racing. The State Labor Government should be prepared to fund basic services without this over-reliance on gambling taxes.

"Unfortunately, with the slowing economy threatening to affect property taxes and GST revenue, the Brumby Government will be relying on gambling to plug its leaking budgets into the future," O'Brien claimed.

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