The Latrobe Valley continues to pour the most money into electronic gaming machines out of all the Gippsland regions, with last financial year’s spend reaching $43.56 million.
Gambler’s Help partnership officer Tenille Thorburn said while the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation figure was down slightly from the total loss in the previous financial year, it was still a huge amount of money considering many residents already faced significant social disadvantage.
“It’s almost double the second-highest losses in the region, which is in East Gippsland. In the last financial year, they lost $23.64 million,” Ms Thorburn said.
Latrobe has the highest number of electronic gaming machines in Gippsland at 522, while East Gippsland has 332.
Wellington Shire has 318 machines and spent $21 million at the pokies last financial year; Bass Coast has 216 machines and spent $16 million; while Baw Baw Shire has 198 machines and spent $14 million; and South Gippsland has the fewest gaming machines at 105 and spent the least last financial year at $6 million.
Ms Thorburn said less than 10 per cent of problem gamblers presented to Latrobe Community Health Service for support.
The organisation is reminding people local help is available.
“Gambling can be addictive, and as with all addictions, you should get professional help,” Ms Thorburn said.
“Through the Gambler’s Help service at Latrobe Community Health Service, we provide therapeutic and financial counselling, recovery assistance and education. These services are free and confidential.”
Ms Thorburn has begun working with other local health services to build their capacity to identify problem gambling.
She said anxiety and depression were among conditions that co-occurred alongside problem gambling and it was hoped that people presenting to health professionals with those conditions would be asked whether there were any gambling issues so they could then be referred to the appropriate support services.
“Problem gambling doesn’t just affect the individual,” Ms Thorburn said.
“Up to 10 people are affected and support is available for them too.”
For more information about Gambler’s Help services, visit www.lchs.com.au/gambling-alcohol-drugs/gambling or phone 1800 242 696.
Source: Gambler’s Help