Not worth the gamble
MORE than half a million dollars was poured into Warwick pokie machines during January, but experts say actual gambling losses could be close to double that amount.
Gambling Help Network chairman Derek Tuffield said gaming machine losses for 2009 made up 60% of total losses.
The remainder was made up by other forms of gambling including Keno, online gambling and sports betting.
Mr Tuffield said the rise of online gambling was frightening, as it was unregulated and had the potential for people to gamble away their livelihood in a night.
"If they are gambling heavy online, that's where it has no boundaries because you can't regulate the internet and it's hard to stop it," he said.
"In 2010, Americans spent $20 billion on online gambling."
With so many options available to gamblers, Mr Tuffield said it was hard to pinpoint exactly what hooked problem gamblers.
"I think for people it's about what form of gambling do they feel comfortable with," he said.
"Some people like pubs and clubs because they like the atmosphere and the noise.
"Some people don't like crowds and think they might do it at home or off their mobile phone."
With round-the-clock access to the internet at most people's fingertips these days, Mr Tuffield said gambling was now becoming an issue for some teenagers.
He said teenagers as young as 13 have been found to steal credit cards and gamble online and it was time for parents to be alert.
"It's troubling because a) they have stolen the credit card, and b) they are dabbling in gambling," he said.
"Now it's about making sure they don't have access to credit cards - no credit, no play."
Mr Tuffield said people seeking help for problem gambling and their families were able to stay anonymous.
- Gamblers in Warwick put $554, 005 into the pokie machines in January.
- For December 2011, the figure was $631,080.