The State's love affair with gambling has deepened with punters notching up a record loss of more than $1 billion - or nearly $660 for each West Australian a year.
The 2007-08 data, obtained from Queensland Treasury, shows West Australians blew a total of $1.07 billion in 2007-08, up slightly from $1.006 billion the year before when the average individual loss was $630.
The report on Australian gambling habits shows that in 2007-08, WA punters splurged a total of $4.7 billion on Lotto, instant scratchies, casino games and the races, which was an average of about $2900 per person. The total amount was $200 million more than the previous year, when West Australians forked out about $2800 each on gambling.
Punters appear to favour the casino, spending about $486 million at Burswood in 2007-08. About $247 million was spent on Lotto, $38 million on scratchies and $268 million at the races in the same period.
The Government is raking in the revenue, collecting about $320 million in gambling-related taxes, or $195 per person. Clubs WA chief executive Peter Seaman said the statistics ignored the real problem in the gambling community, which was the unregulated industry of online gaming.
Mr Seaman called for pokies to be allowed in clubs, claiming it would discourage punters from going online. He said local clubs would at least redirect losses into the community.
Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron reiterated that there were no plans to end the pokies ban.
Mr Waldron said West Australians spent about half the national average on gambling during the year, with the lowest expenditure of all States and Territories. WA contributed just over 3 per cent of all gambling turnover in Australia.
"This result is directly due to the longstanding policy of successive State governments to resist the establishment of poker machines in pubs and clubs in Western Australia," he said.
"In financial terms, the State could be earning in excess of $300 million in extra tax revenue if it were to allow pokies in pubs and clubs but given the misery that poker machines have caused in other States, this is money the Government is happy to forgo."The Consumer Credit Legal Society said gambling addiction was a growing problem in the community.
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