Flood and cyclone relief money wasted on pokies

With increasing evidence that a lot of flood and cyclone relief money ended up going through pokie machines, welfare and problem gambling support groups are trying to rationalise the spike in gambling as stress relief, ignoring the possibility that the relief money was poorly targeted and many recipients were undeserving. The Courier-Mail reports:

QUEENSLAND disaster victims who turned to pubs and clubs for meals and other support contributed to record poker machine losses of almost half a billion dollars in the first three months of the year.

Welfare and problem gambling support groups are convinced flood and cyclone victims were drawn to pokies to relieve stress.

The big jump in gambling losses also coincides with millions being handed out in Federal Government support to victims of the summer disasters.

Gamblers at hotels and clubs lost a whopping $4.9 million on the pokies every day between January and March an increase of 8.2 per cent on the same period last year.

Queensland Council of Social Services president Karyn Walsh said she was concerned.

“Lots of people have been relying on their clubs and local infrastructure while they haven’t been at home,” she said.

There may be some truth to the story about people turning to gambling for stress relief, but a big part of the spike in gambling is probably due to some people having received much more relief money than they actually needed. Our disaster relief arrangements clearly need reform:

Flood relief arrangements are inequitable

My previous post on the impact of relief payments on pokies spending is here:

Was spending on the pokies boosted by flood and cyclone relief payments?

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