Qld pokies gain $24 million in two months

GAMBLERS have lost a staggering $24 million on Sunshine Coast poker machines in just two months, sparking fears that we may not be taking the economic crisis seriously.

Figures from the Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation reveal gamblers in the old Maroochy local government area lost $11.7 million during August and September, making it the sixth-worst area in the state.

Caloundra gamblers blew $8 million on the machines, and in Noosa the figure was $4 million.

Brisbane ($72.5 million) and the Gold Coast ($49.9 million) topped the list, but both are home to major casinos.

More telling for the Sunshine Coast was that in Cairns, where gamblers also have access to a casino, just $11.8 million was lost.

Logan ($16.8 million) and Ipswich ($12.2 million) were also high on the list, and Caboolture gamblers lost $11.1 million.

The figures helped make up a record loss of $327 million across Queensland for the two months.

Sue Miller, from Relationships Australia, said the losses came as no surprise to her, but she could understand other people being shocked.

"I think these kind of figures would be horrifying to people because they are not really spoken about usually," Ms Miller said.

"We have a significant number of clients from across the Sunshine Coast.

"I don't think the average person truly understands the impacts. People get to the point where they lose relationships, they lose children, they lose their jobs and their families and they also lose their sense of identity."

Kay Pozzebon, lecturer in social psychology at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said the figures probably reflected the acceptance of gambling in Australia.

"It is part of our social environment, and most of the facilities are where we eat, drink and relax, so it's quite easily accessible," she said.

"The ease of being able to gamble makes it more attractive. Because it's not locked away, we see it as something that is harmless."

While it is hard to fathom how so much money could be gambled away during tough times, Professor Benno Torgler, from the QUT School of Economics and Finance, said a phenomenon known as "hyperbolic time discounting" might hold the answer.

Recognised by economists worldwide, it was a mindset that the present was more important than the future.

"Just like someone who knows they have to stop eating chocolate cake to lose weight, we know we have to take care of our savings, but the present is more important than the future and we put off doing anything about it," Prof Torgler said.

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