GAMBLERS have fed $20.6 million through the pokies at Tamworth pubs and clubs in just six months.
Liquor and Gaming NSW figures show punters spent $10 million more from June to December last year than they did in the six months prior.
It's been 25 years since one Tamworth Gamblers Anonymous (GA) member, 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 Leader.
"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.
West Tamworth Leagues Club was ranked 86th in the state for net gaming profit among clubs with 169 machines, followed by West Diggers at 277th with 58 pokies.
Southgate Inn was the highest ranked Tamworth pub in the state at 254th for profit with 28 machines.
In Armidale, gamblers spent $5.6 million in clubs and $4.4 million in pubs from about June to December last year.
While in Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains, a total of $7 million was spent at about 238 machines across 12 venues.
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