Bundy gambling more than ever

BUNDY’S battlers gambled more than ever before in July, pouring $4.3 million into the region’s gaming machines in just 31 days.

The amount of money gambled rose 26% from the month before — the biggest increase in Queensland— and was 5% higher than the previous July.

CQ University senior psychology lecturer Dr Matthew Rockloff, a specialist in gambling patterns, put the rise down to economic difficulties and the time of year.

“In July, people get tax returns and have extra cash, which they tend to spend on entertainment — particularly in times of economic stress,” Dr Rockloff said.

“Bundaberg’s reasonably high unemployment and economic difficulties drive gambling, as an escape from problems.”

He said studies showed there was a clear link between hard financial times, and willingness to place a wager.

“When people experience stressful times, like a recession, gambling tends to increase,” he said.

“Gambling creates a dissociative state, and people use it as a way to forget their worries. It’s an ironic consequence that it can create even more problems, if you gamble away all your money — it’s a short term fix.”

However, he said the 5% year-on-year increase should not be seen as an alarm bell, particularly when taking into account the rise in living costs.

“Gambling is an industry that also creates a lot of jobs, so there are positive and negative effects,” Dr Rockloff said.

“It’s gambling problems that are the real issue.”

Family and disability support advocate Mary Walsh said she was not surprised Bundaberg residents had gambled more money than ever.

“People are anxious — we have not had a stable government in the lead up to the election, and people are waiting for tax cheques,” Mrs Walsh said.

“Increased gambling is an issue of concern to the whole region, because Bundaberg is socially vulnerable. If families are struggling, it feeds into this and creates additional hardship.”

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