Geelong Pokies Thrive Despite COVID


Australians have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for over two years. This goes back to January 25th, 2020, when a man in Victoria tested positive after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China.

Since then, the nation has been locked in a seemingly never-ending battle against the virus. To date, COVID-19 has been responsible for nearly 4,500 deaths in Australia and 5.79 million worldwide.  It’s also been a scourge on the gambling industry, with lockdowns and vaccine requirements taking their toll.

While casinos, pubs and clubs have struggled across Oz, the Victorian port city of Geelong just keeps chugging along. In fact, based on recent numbers, it actually seems to have prospered…all thanks to poker machines.

Top Sites for Pokie Losses

A couple of times per year, The Geelong Advertiser publishes an article listing the sites that have taken in the most money via pokies. As an aside, you might be interested to know that the Advertiser is the second-oldest newspaper in the country.

The venerable publication has released their latest report. According to their data, here are the five locations that profited the most from pokies during the period of July 21st to December 31st of 2021.

  • Norlane Hotel – $2,673,045
  • Geelong Combined Leagues Club – $2,752,899
  • Lord of the Isles Tavern – $2,942,653
  • Sphinx Entertainment Centre – $3,345,118
  • The Grovedale Hotel – $3,567,621

In case you’re wondering, that last amount works out to almost $20,000 per day.

The Bottom Line

According to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, the Geelong region experienced losses of $42,454,429 during the latest six-month period. That allowed them to rank first among all municipalities in the state.

In December alone, Greater Geelong and Queenscliffe posted losses of $10.88 million. That’s the fourth highest total ever, surpassed by only August 2018 ($10.98m), March 2021 ($11.056m) and December 2008 ($11.328m).

It’s obvious that local residents craved a break from the pandemic. In fact, Geelong recorded three or their top five worst months for gambling losses in 2021. Not coincidentally, these came during low points of the infection.

Geelong Victoria poker machines

Smart Business or Rampant Greed?

As of this writing, the Geelong region has a total of 1,363 electronic gaming machines. While most find this number satisfactory, there are those who don’t think it would hurt to bump it up a bit.

I’m talking specifically about Valley Inn Hotel, which recently filed an application to increase their number of pokies from 29 to 39. Please note that Valley Inn made $1 million on pokies during the last half of 2021. From July 1st, 2019, to December 31st, 2021, their pokies generated around $3.76 million in player losses.

Geelong’s city council voted to oppose the increase, and they even allocated up to $30,000 for a report to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission. This money would also be used to hire a barrister, as well as generate expert evidence.

Role of the Geelong Cats

It appears that one councilman isn’t a fan of the Geelong Cats, the city’s Australian Football League franchise. During their latest meeting, Councillor Anthony Aitken pointed a finger at the Cats.

“In an ideal situation,” he said, “we should be supporting the reduction of machines, and Geelong Football Club should never have been given the opportunity to sell licenses to operators.”

About a decade ago, the Cats were making about $4 million per year from pokies. However, they eventually changed their philosophy, selling their entertainment venue to the Melbourne Racing Club in a seven-figure deal.

At the time of the sale, Cats chief Brian Cook stated, “We didn’t necessarily want to be involved in an activity that had detrimental outcomes to a number of people in the community.”