HIDDEN EPIDEMIC: Gympie gamblers lost more than $17m in pokies across the region last year, which is quite concerning. Photo: File
HIDDEN EPIDEMIC: Gympie gamblers lost more than $17m in pokies across the region last year, which is quite concerning. Photo: File

REVEALED: Shocking habit Gympie people spend $47k a day on

SHOCKING figures have emerged of a hidden epidemic affecting thousands of people in Gympie each day.

Millions of dollars have been spent on more than 370 pokies across 19 pubs and clubs in Gympie, prompting authorities to be alarmed by the staggering figures.

It has been revealed that close to a whopping $17,150,000 was spent on machines last year in comparison to just under to $16,100,000 in 2018. That average figure is nearly $47,000 a day and was more than a $1 million increase (six per cent rise) from 2018.

A former member of the now defunct Gympie Gambling Anonymous group said residents should be concerned about the latest statistics.

“Yes, we do have a gambling problem,” he said.

“There is so much unemployment and crime in Gympie and with machines being so readily accessible, it’s easy to get caught up and that’s why people go into a spiral.

“People are getting money for nothing, so if you can double your money, people will do it.”

Asked whether or not pokies machines should be scrapped, the man replied, “should alcohol be banned?”

“It’s a tricky one to say, in my opinion they destroy families and working partnerships.

“A lot of people play the pokies for the enjoyment and will only spend a little bit and that’s it, but then you have the other ones who sit at the machines for hours hoping to make a profit.”

The Gympie Gambling Anonymous group folded six months ago due to a lack of interest. It had serviced the Gympie area for 15 years.

“Nowadays people want a quick-fix. They don’t want to attend something each week and will take the easier way which are helplines and psychologists,” the man said.

“There’s also this stigma attached to gambling. They don’t want the town to find out and they don’t want to admit that they do have a problem. They feel ashamed.

“I’ve seen gamblers lose everything — their house, their family and themselves.

“I’m glad I was a horse punter and was not addicted to the pokies as I don’t like pressing a button, it’s quite frightening to see how much people can lose.”

A representative for the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation said there were resources out there to help gamblers.

“The Queensland Government provides more than $6 million per year to deliver free, confidential problem gambling counselling and support through Gambling Help Queensland,” the representative said.

“This includes the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week Gambling Helpline (1800 858 858) and internet-based counselling service, face-to-face counselling services operating across the state, and additional counselling services delivered from alcohol and drug support services in four locations.