High cost: Gambling losses in the south-west total more than $34 million over the past financial year. GAMBLERS lost more than $34million on poker machines in the south-west over the past financial year.
Latest data from theVictorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulationrevealedgamblers droppedmore than $93,000 a day onpoker machines in the region.
Hamilton’s Grand Hotel collected the biggest slice of pokie losses, with $3.84 million fed through its machines, followed by Warrnambool’s Mac’s Hotel on $3.6 million and City Memorial Bowls Club on $3.46 million.
Other Warrnambool venues to increase their pokie takeinclude the Whalers Hotel,Warrnambool Football Club, WarrnamboolRSL,Flying Horse Bar and Bistro and Rafferty’s Tavern.
The Warrnambool Bowls Club recorded a minor decline.
Bethany Community Services chief executive officer Grant Boyd said a lot ofpeople gamble responsibly, but there are peoplewho have problem gambling behaviours.
“It’s always a concern when we see millions of dollars being lost out of a community into gambling,” Mr Boyd said.
“For every person who has a gambling problem, research shows it will affect seven more people. Usually it will be their partner, family or people from theworkplace.”
Mr Boyd said one of the biggest concerns for Bethany was the effect problem gambling had on children.
“It can have a lasting impact on children and the face of gambling is changing so much online,” he said.
“Smart phones make gambling accessible 24 hours a day. Children are at risk as there are a number of sites which offer pseudo-gaming.”
Bethany offer a gambler’s help program and workclosely withgroups including schools, to teach the community to recognise and help problem gamblers.
Mr Boyd said gamblers or the family or partnerof a gambler can call the statewide Gamblers Help and they will be connected to the services Bethany offer.
There are 486electronic gaming machines in the region, with 234 in the City of Warrnambool, 120 in the Glenelg Shire, 75 in Southern Grampians Shire and Corangamite Shire have 57.
Poker machines cost gamblers $18.2 million inWarrnambool, $6.29 million in Southern Grampians, $2.93 million in Corangamite and $6.89 million in Glenelg.
There are no pokies in Moyne Shire with a council policy againstmachines.
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