Every month for the last nine years I’ve been monitoring poker machine expenditure (player loss) in Victoria. For most of that time I was advising the Minister for Gaming of expenditure patterns and trying to explain why I thought expenditure had gone up or down when compared with the previous corresponding period. Sometimes expenditure changes could be logically explained such as in response to the implementation of smoking bans or because of Federal Government stimulation payments. But often finding a reason was difficult.
And so it seems for the last month. After five successive months where poker machine expenditure was increasing at between 3.4% and 5.4% all of a sudden growth has dropped to 1.5%, according to figures for April recently released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation.
There have been no new regulatory restrictions come into effect and it’s not like April 2010 was a boom month which might have seen a natural correction this year. And I don’t think the timing of Easter is relevant. Easter this year occurred toward the end of April … but while earlier in 2010, it still fell in April in 2010.
Last month I posited that perhaps the weather has impacted on people to the extent that maybe more cold and wet days encouraged indoor activity and therefore increased poker machine play … but was April this year any warmer or drier than last?
Maybe the drop off in expenditure on the pokies is consistent with what’s been happening in the retail sector.
Or maybe there just isn’t a single reason to explain why.