Throwing their money out
MARANOA pokies made an average of $595 every hour in December.
Queensland Government figures show that across the Maranoa region, the 148 poker machines made a total of $442,788 in December - an average of $2992 a machine.
The monthly taking was down $87,692 on what the region's pokies made in December 2017, a 17 per cent decline.
Locally the numbers, even in a slight decline, were a cause for concern for Lifeline Darling Downs and Southwest chief executive, Derek Tuffield.
"Any significant spike in additional gambling is always a concern not only for Lifeline but for Queensland as a whole,” Mr Tuffield said.
"Obviously gambling is part of an Australian way of culture but when it becomes excessive or out of control, or when it starts to dominate people's lives, it can start to affect the wider community.
"It affects their families and it can certainly affect a person's own general health, so we do have concerns when the figures are so high.”
Alliance for Gambling Reform director Tim Costello said nationally Australians lost about $14billion a year to pokies.
"Rising pokies losses are causing misery across Queensland, particularly in more vulnerable communities, adding to crime, homelessness, family breakdowns, suicide and bankruptcy,” Mr Costello said.
But Clubs Queensland communications and government relations manager, Laura Bos, told the Western Star gambling was one of many revenue streams clubs used to fund community projects.
"Clubs are member-owned community enterprises, they are not for profit,” she said.
"The whole impetus for the government allowing gaming into clubs was so clubs could provide important social roles for communities.
"Outside tax we know that clubs have a social impact of about $850million per annum of what they put back into the community.
"That includes maintaining football fields, assisting veterans, putting equipment to surf lifesavers.”
However, when gambling becomes an addiction, residents in the Maranoa are at a disadvantage of having fewer in-person services around to help.
Lifeline was the only organisation working in communities, which Mr Tuffield said put them in a unique position.
"We have a large coverage area and we do work one-on- one with clients,” he said.
"There's nothing better than having the personal, one-on-one help, considering the service is free and confidential.
"That is really important, however for rural and remote areas I believe it is important for people to be aware that they can also use online services.
"It means there are a couple more options open for people and they don't have to wait for us to come to town.”
Mr Tuffield said he wished Lifeline could do more in the area they covered.
"Providing adequate services to areas in the southwest is a constant problem for organisations at the moment,” he said.
"Lifeline has the largest number of rural staff it has ever had in the southwest and I don't believe we are meeting full demand out here.”
Head to www. gamblinghelponline.org.au or 1800858858 if you or someone you know has a problem with gambling.