MARIBYRNONG gamblers continue to blow more than $1million a week on the municipality's 439 poker machines, new figures have revealed.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) figures - criticised for being released late on Friday on the eve of the launch of the Olympic Games - show that Maribyrnong punters racked up $56.1 million of pokey losses across 10 venues in the year to June.
The result is Melbourne's third-highest rate of loss per adult and just below the $56.6million spent in the previous financial year.
Each poker machine now pulls in about $130,000 a year, while the average loss for each adult in the municipality stands at close to $1000 a year, well above the state average of just over $600 per adult.
Hobsons Bay is fast catching up, the area's 579 machines taking $52.6million - up from $51.4million last year.
Millers Inn Hotel in Altona North was the area's biggest winner, collecting $14.5million from 70 machines at more than $200,000 per machine.
Yarraville Cricket Club in Maidstone took $11.7million from its 76 machines.
Braybrook's Ashley Hotel collected $11.1million from its 50 machines and Highpoint Taverner $8.5million from 70 machines.
More than $15.5million was lost in Braybrook, the state's second-most disadvantaged suburb.
Monash University public health expert Charles Livingstone puts this down to pokey operators becoming more skilled at "targeting their products at vulnerable communities, identifying which games appeal most to certain demographic sub-groups, and identifying the most profitable locations, gradually ramping up their targeting and 'mix' of games to appeal to specific venue catchments".
Dr Livingstone has criticised the release of the figures on the eve of the London Olympics and called for a $1 limit on bets. The figures show Victorians blew more than $2.68billion on the pokies - $30 million more than they lost the previous year.
The Productivity Commission estimates problem gamblers account for about 40percent of poker machine losses.
A recent UnitingCare study showed pokey players in the Maribyrnong federal electorate lose an average of a quarter of their income on the machines, more than anywhere else in Victoria.
In the federal seat of Maribyrnong, an estimated 20,519 pokey players lost about $6700 each in the past financial year.
Machine numbers in the municipality are set to jump following a win late last year by the Western Bulldogs in a long-running court battle with Maribyrnong Council that will allow them to install 70 poker machines at the under-construction Club Edgewater.
For information and support, call Gambler's Help on 1800858858, or visit gamblinghelponline.org.au