GAMBLING losses in Horsham Rural City rose to almost $9.5 million last financial year.
The city’s punters lost $9,498,045 in 2013-14, $206,817 more than in 2012-13.
Meanwhile, gambling losses plunged in Ararat Rural City and Northern Grampians Shire.
Ararat residents spent $141,003 less on gambling in 2013-14, compared with the previous year.
Losses totalled $11,690,889 in 2013-14, compared with $11,831,891 in 2012-13.
Northern Grampians Shire residents spent $4,875,816 in 2013-14, $67,577 less than the previous financial year, when they spent $4,943,393.
Grampians Community Health gambling, alcohol and other drug team manager Carol Henwood said several factors could have influenced people’s gambling.
“Gambling is not always about money,” she said.
“It can be about loneliness, sadness, boredom, grief and loss, trauma and relationship neglect – a way of someone trying to make themselves feel better.”
Mrs Henwood said gambling issues could escalate in winter because people were looking for warm places to spend time with people.
“Ararat has the prison, and this brings in a high transient population who often find themselves without family and support,” she said.
“Gambling is not always about money. It can be about a way of someone trying to make themselves feel better.”
Mrs Henwood said Wimmera Uniting Care previously provided venue support and community education programs.
Child and Family Services Ballarat is now the lead agency for gamblers help services in the Wimmera.
Mrs Henwood said the change might have affected the availability of venue support workers and community education during the transition stage.
“Child and Family Services will be embarking on education and venue support for the community and we should experience a rise in referrals,” she said.
She said Wimmera venue managers were supportive of gamblers help initiatives, and thanked them for their help.
“Glenn Carroll from Horsham Sports and Community Club has been a member since the beginning, spanning 15 years of involvement,” she said.
Ms Henwood said people could call Grampians Community Health’s Gamblers Help on 5362 1200, Child and Family Services Ballarat on 5337 3333, the 24-hour Gamblers Helpline on 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelponline.org.au.