GAMBLERS have fed $10 million through the pokies at Armidale pubs and clubs in just six months.
$5.6 million was spent in clubs and $4.4 million in pubs from about June to December last year.
Liquor and Gaming NSW figures show punters spent $5 million more from June to December last year than they did in the six months prior, which included the months businesses were forced to close during the pandemic.
It's been 25 years since one Gamblers Anonymous (GA) member from the New England, who did not want to be named, made the decision to change his life.
"I don't think you ever get rid of the urge, it's always there in the back of your mind," he told the Express.
"I wake up every morning and say, 'I'm not going to gamble today.'"
The group meets once-a-week and collectively the members have racked up about 80 years gambling-free.
About half-a-dozen calls come through each week from people who need help, the GA member said.
"We've had people like pastors, doctors, accountants in good businesses," he said.
"It affects everyone, it doesn't draw a line on who you are or what you are - it's an addiction the same as alcohol or drugs. "Once they get a hold of you it's very hard to get rid of them."
In NSW, gamblers can exclude themselves from venues or online gambling websites.
A gambler will sign a deed that lists the venues they agree not to go into for a minimum period and if staff see them there, they will report it to the program and ask them to leave.
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