Over $9 million spent on pokies in Greater Bendigo

by William Brown Last Updated
Loddon Mallee residents seek gambling help

Electronic gaming machine use has soared in Greater Bendigo with over $9 million spent over the first two months of the 2019/20 financial year.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation reported $9,329,875 in the months of July and August have been spent on electronic gaming machines in Greater Bendigo.

Comparatively, August’s loss of $4,827,615 was over $300,000 more than July’s of $4,502,261.

In 2018/19, residents of Greater Bendigo lost a total of $50,671,968 on electronic gaming machines.

Regional Director of Anglicare Victoria Francis Lynch spoke with the Bendigo Advertiser and stated problem gamblers can be attributed to a decent proportion of the alarming figures.

“There are some people who, and most people who use the electronic gaming machines, don’t have a problem with their use,” he said.

“However there are a proportion of people in the community who become addicted to using these machines and it’s really the problem gamblers where the most harm occurs.

“So you’ve got a certain percentage … who use these machines who will have financial problems as a result, they’ll have family relationship problems as a result. In extreme cases that can lead to significant mental health issues as well.”

Anglicare Victoria operates a Gambler’s help program to assist those struggling with gambling and their families.

Mr Lynch also Anglicare’s Gamblers Help program could offer therapeutic services and financial counsellors, anyone affected by problem gambling could contact gamblers help or make a referral on behalf of someone.

Interestingly, he also mentioned that the electronic gaming machine statistics did not show up hidden gambling through online gambling sites in Australia and offshore. He said that people who come to Anglicare included members of the community who have experienced problems with this form of gambling as well.

Gambling Harm Awareness Week continues

This week, between 7 and 13 October 2019 is Gambling Harm Awareness Week. which is run by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and designed to encourage community discussions about why gambling harm matters.

Gambling harm extends beyond losing money. It also relates to its impact on self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life. In addition, it can harm not only the person who gambles but also family, friends, workplaces and communities.

Bendigo are hosting two events as part of Gambling Harm Awareness Week. Last Friday, just prior to its commencement, Bendigo Community Health Services held an awareness and knowledge session for refugee youth. The day included information on gambling harm, lunch and a recreational activity.

Today, on Thursday 10 October, the Victorian Gambling Responsible Foundation will be holding one of three scheduled events (it’s third and final) for the week in Bendigo. The event is a workshop, titled Knowledge in Action, focused on sharing research along with local knowledge and experience, and encouraging collaboration in the community.

This particular workshop has youth at the heart of the discussion. Researchers speaking on the day will be Dr Alex Russell, senior postdoctoral fellow in the Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory at CQUniversity and Nancy Greer, researcher and PhD candidate at CQUniversity.

Joining the two are Professor David Hill, behavioural scientist and a founder of the Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey and Dr Rebecca Jenkinson, manager of the Australian Gambling Research Centre and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine at Monash University.

Topics of focus will be the presentation of new research about young people’s gambling behaviours, exposures and attitudes (an Australian first). They will analyse important and emerging issues like gambling normalisation, sports betting, e-sports and online gambling-like content in games and social media.

In addition, they will discuss the relationships between gambling and other issues such as mental health, alcohol, and other drugs.

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