A woman plays the pokies.
A woman plays the pokies.

Gambling addictions eased by pokie ban

The pokie ban, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, has been a blessing for many problem gamblers, while some have turned to online gambling for their fix.

The country's 194,000 pokie machines were forced to shut down in March along with bars, clubs and pubs in response to the global pandemic.

Locally, CentaCare North Queensland has not seen a rise in the number of residents seeking help for addiction but have noticed an increase in people accessing online gambling services.

They also recorded an increase in the number of people betting on NRL and AFL upon their return.

CentaCare North Queensland's Gambling Help Program Manager Emma Every said clients already seeking help with addiction had a mixed response to the suddenness of the ban.

"In some cases it made people anxious in the beginning as their coping mechanism and addiction was removed overnight without warning or time to prepare themselves," she said.

Dee Why RSL gaming area. generic/ pokie machines/ gambling/ casino/ northern Beaches
Dee Why RSL gaming area. generic/ pokie machines/ gambling/ casino/ northern Beaches

"Some clients have said that it was a blessing in disguise as it made them realise the impact of gambling on their life, the amount of time they spend on gambling and of course how much money they spent on gambling.

"Some clients have reported it is an 'out of sight, out of mind' feeling for them as the temptation has been removed."

There is concern that with pokies reopening, people will turn to the gaming machines.

"We recommend that people know their limits, consider what they are willing to gamble, (because) it is not just money that people gamble with," Emma said.

"It is relationships, savings, homes and families."

If you or anyone you know needs help with a gambling habit, contact 1800 858 858 for free counselling and support.

Originally published as Gambling addictions eased by pokie ban



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