More than $2b gambled away at Qld pokies in a year
EVERY man, woman and child in Queensland poured the equivalent of $429 into poker machines in the past 12 months, adding up to more than $2 billion since July 2012.
The staggering consumption is shared between 42,947 machines at 1259 hotels and clubs across the state.
These figures do not include the amounts that go into the machine but are won by punters - between 85% to 92% of money fed into machines is returned.
In some Queensland regions, including Mackay and Gladstone, the average spend per person tops $600.
This is even higher than the Brisbane average of $409 per person, where would-be gamblers have access to non-stop poker machines in the always-open Treasury Casino.
National survey data examined by the Productivity Commission in 2010 suggests up to 600,000 people use pokies regularly, with 15% of those - or 95,000 - problem gamblers.
These addicted players make up less than half of 1%, but make up about 40% of poker machine spending.
Questions were put to Justice Minister Jarrod Bleijie and the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, but there was no response before deadline on Wednesday.
Relationships Australia Queensland gambling help counsellor Emma Malone said only a fraction of those in the grip of gaming addictions sought help.
Those grappling with it were often the most vulnerable in the community and the ones least able to handle losing money.
Mental health issues would make some more susceptible, but casual players might also be on the "slippery slope to addiction" if they used gambling as an escape when things went wrong.
"If something happens in their life, some mental illness or trauma, a roadblock or hiccup, and they have used (gambling) in the past in a controlled way - your behaviour can spiral out of control," Ms Malone said.
Key signs of a slide into addiction include chasing losses and putting gambling ahead of rent or other important bills.
Ms Malone said it was important for those affected to seek help, because many called the 24-hour gambling help line only after a critical point.
For some it will be a mountain of debt, for others an ultimatum from a partner.
The Gambling Help Service at Relationships Australia Queensland is funded with money put into gaming machines as part of a State Government plan to help problem gamblers.
Those needing help can phone the Gambling Help Service on 1800 858 858 at any time.
WHO SPENDS WHAT?
How much did your region spend on pokes in the past 12 months?
- Mackay: $74.83m ($616pp)
- Gladstone: $37.8m ($600pp)
- Rockhampton: $63.32m ($538pp)
- Bundaberg: $50.16m ($509pp)
- Fraser Coast: $51.95m ($495pp)
- Ipswich: $75.12m ($428pp)
- Sunshine Coast: $114.51 ($427pp)
- Brisbane: $426.8m ($409pp)
- Toowoomba: $61.76m ($375pp)
- Gympie: $13.12m ($266pp)
- QUEENSLAND: $2 billion ($429.85pp)