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Campaspe Shire gamblers lose $7.5m

New Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation statistics show gamblers in Campaspe Shire lost almost $7.5 million in 2013.

TRENT HORNEMAN February 5, 2014 11:45am

Gamblers in Campaspe Shire are losing more than $20,000 a day to poker machines.

New Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation statistics show gamblers in the region lost $7,452,504.36 in 2013.

Last year, the number of poker machines in the shire rose from 167 in three venues to 209 machines in four venues — Echuca Hotel, American Hotel, Echuca Workers and Services Club and Kyabram Club.

The worst month for gamblers in the region was December, when they lost $672,392 in 31 days.

The numbers were slightly down on 2012, when gamblers lost more than $7.8million.

The figures are just for Victorian venues and do not include three of the region’s biggest poker machine venues at Moama Bowling Club, Rich River Golf Club Resort and Moama RSL.

St Luke’s Anglicare senior manager Phil Eddy said gambling counsellors helped more than 600 badly affected people last year.

‘‘By badly affected, (I mean) their relationship was in trouble or they were in trouble financially. The majority of them had an addiction,’’ he said.

Mr Eddy said research suggested for every person receiving help, five problem gamblers were walking around untreated.

He said poker machines preyed on people who were lonely, pensioners, economically-disadvantaged or had significant mental issues.

‘‘For these people it is a social activity,’’ he said.

‘‘It is easy for people to become addicted as machines are designed to give repetitive small payouts.

‘‘Even the designs of the machines, such as dolphins, are all done to attract certain client groups.’’

Mr Eddy said while governments could take many steps to curb gambling, they were reluctant to change.

He said it was time for governments to treat gambling the same way it had tobacco.

Mr Eddy said a government ban on ATMs in poker machine venues had helped to initially curb money gambled.

‘‘The move to make people go to a person at a poker machine venue and ask for cash out had an initial impact,’’ he said.

‘‘More and more younger people are being groomed through the rise of online and mobile phone applications.

‘‘Even if it is just playing for tokens, it is encouraging young people to gamble.

‘‘There needs to be a stop on bookmakers advertising at the ground and on television during quarter-time breaks at the footy.

‘‘I don’t want to hear young children say that their team is not going to win because they are paying more than the opposition.’’

Mr Eddy said he had come across parents seeking gambling counselling for their children.

‘‘It is a big unknown and a major concern,’’ he said.

‘‘There needs to be something done about this.

‘‘It is not just the impact on the gambler and their family, it has a far-reaching socio-economic impact.

‘‘Small businesses will not have the same sort of access to a person’s disposable income if they are heavily gambling.’’

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