The amount of money spent on Bendigo's pokies fell significantly last month, as the coronavirus crisis kept people at home and forced the closure of pubs and gaming venues.
The latest expenditure data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation shows people lost $2,575,477 on gaming machines across the City of Greater Bendigo's 11 licensed venues in March.
This was a decrease of 33 per cent on the previous month, and a drop of 41 per cent on the almost $4.4 million spent on the city's pokies in March last year.
Across Victoria as a whole, the money lost by poker machine players dropped by 34 per cent between February and March.
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Pubs and clubs were closed on March 23 as the federal government announced a shutdown of 'non-essential' services to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Elsewhere in central Victoria, pokies in Central Goldfields Shire's three gaming venues saw a 29 per cent decrease in expenditure between February and March, and a drop of 27 per cent between March 2019 and the month just gone.
In Campaspe Shire losses fell 24 per cent month to month, while Macedon Ranges Shire experienced a 26 per cent decrease in expenditure.
The latest data shows pokie losses in those municipalities last month were 32 per cent and 37 per cent less than March last year.
Anglicare Victoria program manager for Gambler's Help, Tracey Grinter, said people already engaged with the service were "very happy" venues had closed and removed the temptation.
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Whether those experiencing gambling problems are instead turning to online outlets is a more difficult question to answer.
"Online gambling can be more of a hidden addiction," Ms Grinter said.
There was also no data around rates of this form of gambling, she said, and people were less likely to seek help for it than other types.
Ms Grinter said Gambler's Help had expected an increase in people presenting for online gambling during the coronavirus crisis, but that had not happened yet.
However, it was early days, she said.
Ms Grinter said the number of people seeking help from the service had fallen with the advent of the health crisis.
But she said it was possible there would be an influx once gaming venues reopened, especially as these settings provided a social outlet, too.
"It's something we need to monitor and be aware of," she said.