Pokie machine addicts are spending $5 million more a month than two years ago and it is costing them a lot more than loose change.
Figures from the Office of Liquor and Gaming show gamblers in August put $29.4 million into pokie machines on the Gold Coast.
That is about $39,748 an hour or $11 a second.
The huge spend is a rapid increase from the $24.4 million spent in August, 2014. Population growth and more machines are considered the prime reasons for the increase. In August, 2014, 5357 pokie machines were in operation. By August, 2016, the number had risen to 5657.
One former gambler told the Gold Coast Bulletin problem gamblers could not just put a single coin in a machine, it soon became everything in their pockets or everything on their bank card. Karsas Tai Lawyers principal Basil Karsas said a significant number of Gold Coasters came before the courts charged with offences fuelled by an addiction to gambling.
“Fraud is probably the most common offence people who have gambling addictions are charged with,” he said. “Often the victim of the fraud is Centrelink or their employer.” Mr Karsas said dishonesty offences were also a crime of choice for people hooked on the pokies or online betting.
Southport psychologist David Nowland, who specialises in addictions including gambling, said problem gambling was not uncommon on the Gold Coast. “The consequences are high,” he said. “I know some people who have lost three houses (from gambling).” He said pokie machines in pubs and clubs made it difficult for those looking to overcome an addiction but they needed to take personal responsibility.
For assistance overcoming a gambling addiction call Lifeline on 13 11 44 or Gambling Help on 1800 858 858.