MORE than $34 million has stayed in the pockets of Mornington Peninsula pokies players prevented from getting their gambling fix during COVID-19 restrictions.
Poker machine players across Victoria have saved themselves $1 billion.
“COVID-19 is presenting us with a unique opportunity to rethink the dire situation Australia has gotten itself into with the prevalence of gambling,” Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate the Reverend Tim Costello said.
“Australians lost $25 billion gambling last year – the highest rate of losses per head in the entire world.”
The mayor Cr Sam Hearn said gambling-related harm could affect health and community services, education institutions, workplaces and local businesses.
“It can take a toll on our personal lives, too, damaging families and straining friendships, especially during these unprecedented times,” Cr Hearn said.
“It’s important we support those who may be struggling and are more vulnerable to gambling harm.
“Even though people can’t access poker machines during the lockdown, gambling is still accessible online, and we need to support others who may have stopped and are struggling with this change in behaviour.”
The Rev Costello said: “Gambling harm impacts more people than most of us realise. The stigma associated with it often prevents people from speaking up or seeking help, and we must overcome this.
“As an addictive product, gambling can be sought out by people to self-soothe during times of stress. Gambling is also known to increase during economic crises. This is a major concern right now.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with gambling, call Gambler’s Help 1800 858 858 or gamblershelp.com.au