Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily

Boredom behind rise in gambling

BORED miners are fuelling an unprecedented splurge on Mackay poker machines with the region's monthly pokies losses surging past $6 million.

A gambling support service is counselling a number of miners who are blowing bucks on the pokies, while a community organisation says the swell in losses can be attributed to increased wealth in Mackay.

Last month alone gamblers frittered away $6.33 million on poker machines in the region, much more than last year's average monthly loss of $5.193 million.

September's splurge came after a whopping $6.6 million was lost on Mackay pokies in August and $6.291 million in July.

The increased losses come as the Federal Government pushes controversial pokies reforms in an attempt to curb problem gambling.

Gambling Help Service Counsellor Kelly Black, of Relationships Australia, said there had been a slight increase in the number of people seeking help for problem gambling at the same time last year.

Ms Black said her support service was becoming increasingly concerned about the number of miners who went to the pokies on days off or during their spare time out west.

"A few of the male clients I have gamble out west after working at the mines," she said. "It's the days off in Mackay (when they gamble) but it's also out west after work.

"It's a boredom thing. It's certainly something we have to keep an eye on."

Anglicare regional director John Langford said increased losses could be attributed to increased wealth, rather than problem gamblers.

"One reason is we are more affluent - the more (money) you have, the more you are going to waste it," Mr Langford said.

"People waste their money on all sorts of things.

"(But) for the few who gamble excessively, of course something should be done for them."

Ms Black said it was difficult to gauge how many miners were accessing help.

"For example, some people who are gambling in the Mackay area who are fly-in and fly-out (FIFO) workers may be accessing the service in other areas. It should also be noted that the Gambling Help Service has assisted clients who are drive-in drive-out workers from mines surrounding Mackay who are gambling in other shires,"she said.

Losses on poker machines in the Isaac region are also on the rise. Statistics show $1.355 million was lost on the region's poker machines last month, compared to $1.033 million in September last year.

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