SHOCK FIGURES: The pokies are costing the region about $5.2 million each month.
SHOCK FIGURES: The pokies are costing the region about $5.2 million each month. Max Fleet BUN290413BET1

Region losing millions every month through pokies

FRASER Coast punters are pouring an average of $5.2 million every month into gaming machines.

The shock statistics were released by the Office of Liquor and Gaming yesterday.

They show the region is on track to lose about $60 million this financial year.

Fraser Coast Deputy Mayor George Seymour described the figures as staggering and said if he had his way, pokie machines would be dumped off the coast and turned into artificial reef.

"It's that serious of a problem, they serve no useful purpose and are designed to addict people and keep them at the machines,” Cr Seymour said.

According to the report, $5,224,804 was lost on local pokies in September alone.

The Bundaberg region lost about $4,570,034 that same month.

Cr Seymour said the council could be more active in warning people of the dangers of using the machines, but it was the community which ultimately needs to speak up.

"The consumer protection law should protect the public from these dodgy products,” he said.

But Hervey Bay RSL's general manager Jason Lynch said there were mechanisms in place to support people with gambling addictions in the community.

He said the RSL had a strict self-exclusion policy and was in regular contact with support networks.

"There are mechanisms in place to ensure the community is safe and the harm from problem gambling is minimised,” Mr Lynch said.

"We have the support mechanisms and help refer people, and work with them.”

Mr Lynch said the club contributed many of its collected funds, including those raised from the pokies, back into the community.

RSL Community engagement officer Sarah Bailey said about $30,000 was given to community groups every month, including $2,500 for WeCare2 and $2000 for Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Heidi, a member of Gamblers Anonymous Australia, said severe gambling addictions could lead to financial ruin, broken homes and even suicide.

She said it was the feeling of despair that "drove people to the extremes.”

"The big message is there is hope, and you're not the only one doing it,” Heidi said.

If you or someone you know has a serious gambling problem, contact WeCare2 on 4124 0913, Uniting Care Queensland on 4191 3100 and Gamblers Anonymous Australia on 0467 655 799.



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