Tamworth's gamblers are continuing a run of big losses, with the city's poker machines netting some $6 million in just three months, according to latest statistics.
Between March 1 and May 31, 2021, some $6,062,704 went through local poker machines.
The latest figures from Liquor and Gaming NSW cover only clubs, not pubs.
It compares with about $12,855,472 lost at clubs between June and December 2020.
On average, each poker machine netted $25,526.33 during the three-month period to May 31, 2021; far above the state average of $16,207 per machine.
Gambling losses skyrocketed across Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic once pokies were switched back on, including in the North West region.
Gamblers lost $20.6 million at both pubs and clubs in the last six months of 2020, about $10 million more than the six months prior.
Moneycare financial counsellor Noel Duffin said the statistics don't capture all the extra gambling that has happened since the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.
"We are seeing recently an increase in demand for service," he said.
"What we're seeing at this in moment in time is an increase in online gambling, and COVID is probably a catalyst for that.
"When the lockdown happened things went really quiet.
"That was due for a number of reasons.
"People normally approach our service in times of financial stress, it's usually when things reach the end, people look for help.
"During COVID, a lot of the financial institutions were not proactive in their collection process ... and gave moratoriums that put things on hold for people for a period of three, six, nine months."
But with the end to the lockdowns, problem gamblers have once again started reaching the end of their tether.
"Have I seen people who have lost their house because of their gambling addiction? Yes, I have. Have I seen people who've lost their business because of their gambling addiction? Yes, I have," he said.
"Gamblers come from all walks of life."
Mr Duffin urged people to seek help earlier, before they maxed out the credit card.
The number of poker machines in Tamworth has barely changed in years. The city is home to 509 machines in 15 venues, compared with 513, in 2016.
Tamworth is not home to any of the top-ten most profitable pokies venues, but the Brewarrina RSL Club, which has just 12 poker machines, is the state's eighth most profitable, per machine.
The West Tamworth League Club is home to the city's most profitable poker machines. Its 169 machines are the state's 94th most profitable.
Armidale poker machines are less profitable than Tamworth machines. In Armidale, gamblers lost $3,734,614 from March to May 2021 through 267 machines, an average loss of $13,987 per machine.
Residents of the Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains lost $2,136,841 through 188 machines, an average loss of $11,366 per machine.
All told, NSW lost $1,058,161,169 through 65,289 machines, an average loss of $16,207 per machine.
Loss numbers are given as a net figure, subtracting winnings by punters from losses, to get net profit.
Liquor and Gaming NSW is set to finish crunching the data for pubs by next month.
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