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Australians lose billions of dollars on slot machines: report

MELBOURNE, Aug. 1 (Xinhua)-- Victorians have lost more than 38 billion U.S. dollars playing slot machines since their introduction to the state 24 years ago.

The revelation, which came after an investigation in the Australian media, has prompted calls for the Victorian government to crack down on the electronic gambling machines -- known locally as "pokies."

Victoria's Labor government, lead by Premier Daniel Andrews, will reap more than 800 million U.S. dollars in slot machine tax revenue making the gaming machines Victoria's "dirty little secret", according to opponents of the machines.

"This is the moment for the Andrews government to really repent,"Tim Costello of the Alliance for Gambling Reform told News Limited on Monday.

"They have built into their budget more than a billion dollars of revenue over the next year.

"Labor must stand up against predatory pokies that are a con and produce addictions.

"We have known the solution for many years, it is just that governments have been addicted to the revenue. That is what is evil -- ignoring the suffering and the addiction."

Gambling groups, including Costello's Alliance for Gambling Reform, are proposing a spin limit on the machines and a 90 U.S. dollar cap on how much a player can lose in an hour.

The city of Monash, in Melbourne's southeast, has been hit the hardest by the machines since 1992 with a net loss of 1.8 billion U.S. dollars.

The mayor of Monash, Geoff Lake, condemned the slot machine companies for"profiting from the misery of people in our community."

"This 38 billion (U.S. dollars) is such a monumental amount of money, disproportionately shouldered by those who can least afford it," Lake said on Monday.

"This is not an issue with the gambler who puts the money through the machines. This is an issue with governments who stand by and don't regulate while big operators use machines to addict and get inside people's heads."

Victoria's Gaming Minister, Marlene Kairouz, committed to spending upwards of 110 million U.S. dollars on tackling problem gambling over the next four years.

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