HORSHAM residents have lost more than $9.9 million through poker machines in the past financial year.
New figures from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation showed the amount of money spent on electronic gaming machines had increased in the city over the past few years.
In 2018-19, gaming patrons spent $9.92 million on pokies, which was up from $9.51 million in 2017-18 and $9.2 million in 2016-17.
Horsham Rural City has about 153 electronic gaming machines, across three venues - Horsham Sports and Community Club, Horsham RSL and West Side Horsham.
A Wimmera resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Mail-Times, that gambling addiction could affect a range of things.
The resident is now seeking support from Grampians Community Health for gambling addiction.
"Gambling addiction is like any other addiction, with gambling addiction you lose your money and it impacts your self-worth. It also puts a strain on relationships and it creates a lot of financial stress," the person said.
"You feel weak that something like gambling can take over your life - you feel powerless".
The person said playing the pokies started out as a fun thing to do.
"Then it becomes a habit and then addiction," they said.
"The signs for me were the frequency of gambling in terms of hours and days, as well as constantly thinking about it.
"I was chasing my losses and thinking about the highs and desperate lows when you lose.
"The hardest thing is admitting you have a problem and walking through the door to get help.
"If you feel your losing control of your gambling seek help and get some support."
Grampians Community Health healthy lifestyle manager Caleb Lourensz said it was important that anyone struggling with gambling sought help.
"You might suspect that gambling is affecting your life, but how do you really know if your gambling has become a problem?" he said.
"It might help to ask yourself the following questions - do you struggle to control gambling impulses? Are you spending more time gambling than you plan to? Do you feel like gambling has taken over your life"
"If you answered yes to any of these questions then you might have a gambling problem."
Mr Lourensz said Grampians Community Health provided counselling for people affected by gambling in the region.
"The services is free, supportive and confidential," he said.
Residents in Northern Grampians and Ararat municipalities spent $9.2 million last year financial, which was down from $9.72 million in 2017-18.
The total loss on gambling machines for all of Victoria was $2.698 billion in the 2018-19 financial year.
"This means on average, Victorian adults lost $530 on the pokies in the past financial year," said the Rev Tim Costello, Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman.
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