GAMING expenditure is on the rise throughout the Wimmera, with money spent on electronic gaming machines increasing.
New statistics from the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation revealed total expenditure for the Horsham Rural City Council LGA was $5,209,336 between July and December 2018.
This was an increase from the January to June 2018 total of $4,582,920. Of that total, $3,009,465 was spent at the Horsham Sports and Community Club, which has 83 electronic gambling machines.
Club manager Glenn Carroll said 100 per cent of its profits from the machines, after normal trading, went back into the community through its grants program.
He also said the club had a number of ways it helped problem gamblers.
“There is an opportunity for people to self exclude themselves from the venue if they have a problem with gambling. There is also a voluntary system people can sign up for which helps them keep track of their time and money spent on the machines,” he said.
Remaining expenditure fro Horsham saw $1,180,343 spent at Horsham RSL and $1,019,528 at West Side Horsham. Horsham RSL has 36 machines, while West Side Horsham has 34 machines.
Ararat Rural City and Northern Grampians Shire numbers are rolled together in the data collected, with more than $4.7 million worth of losses in six months.
The Northern Grampians experienced a 3.38 per cent increase with $312,360 more losses last year than the year before.
Northern Grampians Shire mayor Kevin Erwin said his council was supportive of state government measures to try and reduce gambling losses and addiction.
“We are really supportive of the whole gamble responsibly messaging,” he said.
“We recognise gambling can be a problem in the community. Anything in moderation is OK I suppose but that whole idea of gambling responsibly is really important.
Statewide, Victorians lost more than $1.4 billion between July and December last year, on track to surpass the nearly $2.7 billion lost in 2017-18.
COMMENT: Sport and gambling don’t go together
Grampians Community Health counselling program leader Jemima Bibby said problem gambling was “beyond money”.
“The consequences can include the breakdown in relationship reducing self-esteem that can impact the ability to work or study, this can cause anxiety, depression and suicide,” she said.
“Despite the fact that most people believe that it is the individual’s issue, it also affects their significant others, and the other side of it is that substance use and gambling often occur together.
“When an individual is under the influence of alcohol and drugs they may take more risks, not considering the short or long term effects of gambling.”
Grampians Community Health is one of many Wimmera services that offers help to those struggling with gambling.
It provides more than 20 counselling sessions each month and also regularly runs community education events.
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