Within two days of pokies reopening in Albury, a Border gambler was ready to take their own life.
That is the unfortunate reality of gaming venues reopening after the pandemic lockdown, according to Uniting gambling counsellor Kaily Goodsell.
And while poker machines are still out of bounds south of the Border, Wodonga residents are travelling to NSW venues to play.
“When everything was closed down it gave people an opportunity to reset, to rethink what was happening for them because their access to the venues had been removed,” Ms Goodsell said.
“Their temptation was removed.
“For a lot of our clients it gave them a great breathing space.
“We know the statistics for online gambling did go up significantly during the lockdown but for a lot of our clients their addiction is the electronic game machines.
“And that temptation is back.”
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Ms Goodsell said major venues in Albury including the Commercial Club and the SS&A Club was a drawcard for Victorian gamblers.
“Unfortunately for some people, although they have had that reprieve, as soon as it was back online again it was back into it,” she said.
“That just means there are underlying issues which need to be managed and worked on.
“I think it was within two days we had our first person who gave us a call, they were suicidal because they had been to the venue and gambled all their Centrelink payments, they had also sold things to fund more gambling.
“People have always travelled to Albury because that is where the huge gaming venues are.”
Uniting have seen more than 400 new clients this in the 2019-20 financial year who are seeking both financial and gambling help.
“That number is huge,” she said.
“We have had clients who have taken their own lives and we have had many who have attempted to, they have lost their families, their lives their livelihoods.
“It can be very devastating for a lot of people.
“I think the important message at the moment is that there is help available, pick up the phone or go online and just have a conversation with someone.
“It doesn’t have to be ongoing, it might just be one check in – it can make the world of difference.”