One-in-10-million chance of top prize
COLAC and district gamblers are more likely to choke on their food 32 times before winning big on the pokies.
The State Government has released statistics coinciding with Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, which started on Monday and finishes Sunday.
The statistics show the odds of winning top prize on a standard Black Rhino poker machine are almost one in 10 million.
Put in perspective, the chances of choking on food are one in 300,000.
Gamblers have sunk $1.8 million into Colac’s poker machines in the first three months of this year, or $109 per adult.
The average adult in Colac Otway Shire spent $443 on pokies in the 2009-10 financial year.
But Geelong-based organisation Bethany Community Support’s research showed Colac and district residents were gambling less on pokies than the average Victorian adult, $611 per adult, and country-Victorian adult, $503.
Bethany chief executive Grant Boyd said statistics showing the amount problem gamblers were spending on pokies were more concerning.
“About 40 per cent of the money that goes through those machines is from problem gamblers,” Mr Boyd said.
“Australian Government statistics show about one-in-six people who play them regularly would be considered to have a serious addiction,” he said.
“Problem gamblers lose around $21,000 each year, which is a third of the average annual salary.”
Bethany Gamblers Help offers face-to-face counselling for people in Colac affected by problem gambling and Mr Boyd said it was a well-received service in the city.
“From our weekly bookings, we feel we have a reasonable demand for services in the region for counselling and financial counselling,” he said
“There are only about 15 per cent of problem gamblers who seek help, the majority don’t seek help.”
Mr Boyd said young people aged 18 to 24 were alarmingly spending more time on pokies than any other age group and were looking for help more frequently through Bethany’s programs.
He said Responsible Gambling Awareness Week was important to highlight the problems and support avenues.
“It’s a very important week for us to promote issues around responsible gambling,” he said.
“And it’s important for family members of problem gamblers to know where to seek help,” Mr Boyd said.
“There are links between problem gambling and health issues such as mental illnesses, drugs and alcohol, family violence, it tends to be a cluster of issues that we see when people present to us.”
Anyone who needs help can contact Bethany Gamblers Help on 5278 8122.