Lost gambling dollars and individual harms still significant in regional community, despite lockdowns

Millions of dollars are spent on poker machines in Ballarat each year, leading to negative financial, physical and psychological impacts for gamblers and their families and friends.

Even with venues closed for much of this year, thousands of dollars are being thrown away daily in Ballarat to addictive poker machines.

In Victoria, Gambling Harm Awareness Week runs from 18 to 24 October. Ballarat Community Health (BCH) Gambling Harm Project Consultant, Kate Diamond-Keith says this year BCH is determined to illustrate to the people of Ballarat, just how much money is being lost to poker machines every day.

“BCH will erect a digital display in Ballarat’s Main Road during Gambling Harm Awareness Week. The billboard will highlight the gross financial, physical and psychological effects of gambling in our community.”

With a dynamic display that reflects dollars lost daily, and located on Main Rd, the display will help educate community members in hopes it changes their minds about how they spend their time and their money.

“People in Ballarat work hard for their money. Pokies and other forms of gambling take away so much more than just income from community members, we want to reduce this harm,” Ms Diamond-Keith said.

With 639 poker machines available to Ballarat area residents, BCH is determined to help people find new ways to spend their time and income, particularly once lockdowns end. A social media campaign launched this week will help bolster the digital display activity.

Created in partnership with local Neighbourhood Houses, the ‘Spend Your Time In New Ways’ campaign highlights alternate activities to gambling, like the ones available to community via Neighbourhood Houses, and shines a light on activities that are positive and productive: https://bchc.org.au/service/all-in-gambling/

“We hope to start more conversations about the harms of gambling and remove the stigma around seeking help,” Ms Diamond-Keith said.

For FREE confidential help services, including in other languages, call Gambler’s Help 1800 858 858 or visit GamblersHelp.com.au

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