Pokie machine gamblers lost $800million in just one month in Australia after pubs, clubs and casinos reopened as COVID-19 restrictions eased.
Most pokie rooms reopened on June 1 when lockdown restrictions were lifted across Australia.
Players in Queensland lost $300million in July alone, while NSW punters blew $571million in June.
South Australians haven’t lost as much since gaming areas were reopened as revellers spent $73million on the machines in July.
Meanwhile, gamblers in Tasmania lost $19million on poker machines per capita and in the same month, news.com.au reported.
Australians have lost a massive $800million on poker machines in the last two months alone despite social distancing rules limiting the number of people allowed inside at any one time (woman pictures on a poker machine)
In Western Australia, poker machines are restricted to casinos while Victoria remains in strict Stage Four lockdown which prevents using the pokies.
A Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia the Queensland figure was 32 per cent higher than the same time in 2019.
‘OLGR continues to monitor these figures closely while engaging with industry and gambling help services to monitor any potential increase in gaming-related harm,’ she said.
Alliance for Gambling Reform advocate Anna Bardsley said the upward trend in gambling was a major concern.
‘The money that wasn’t lost in those few months when lockdown was on instead went to small businesses, it went to supermarkets, it went to putting food on the table,’ she told the NCA NewsWire.
Ms Bardsley said the length of the lockdown wasn’t enough to break the cycle of addiction for some punters.
‘I know from my own experience it took longer than a few months to rewire my brain,’ she said.
Queensland residents lost $300million on the pokies in July alone, while NSW punters blew $571 million in June while Tasmanians lost $73million in July (man pictured playing a poker machine)
The AGR released a statement on Thursday urging the Victorian Government and local councils to ‘enact reform’ before gaming rooms are reopened.
AGR chief advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said it was imperative Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews moves now to prevent a potential tsunami of gambling harm.
‘With unemployment at record highs and the general stress around COVID-19, many more people are and will be vulnerable to gambling harm,’ he said.
‘Every dollar lost to poker machines is money extracted from local economies. Pokies are an effective economic drain on our state.
‘The $1.25billion saved in the few months since shutdown shows how much benefit could be derived from Victorian gambling reform.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted the AGR for further comment.
The worrying rise in gambling has prompted leading anti-gambling advocacy groups to call on gaming reforms to prevent a ‘tsunami of gambling harm’ (poker machine pictured)