South-west punters lost more than $43.3 million to the region's poker machines in the past financial year, new data reveals.
A report released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation shows a total of $43,396,107 was spent in the City of Warrnambool, Colac-Otway and Glenelg shires in the 2018-19 financial year.
The region's total expenditure saw a 2.3 per cent increase from the year before.
More than $19 million dollars was spent at Warrnambool's eight poker machines - up 1.5 per cent from the previous year.
Glenelg's four venues jumped 2.3 per cent, raking in over $10 million, while the five Colac-Otway poker machine venues spent over $13 million, up 4.9 per cent.
The data set amalgamated Corangamite and Colac-Otway Shires. There are no poker machines in the Moyne Shire.
In the last financial year punters spent the most at Warrnambool's Mac's Hotel with more than $3.8 million expended, followed by the City Memorial Bowls Club with more than $3.3 million spent.
Mac's Hotel saw a 7.3 per cent jump in its expenditure from the year before while the City Memorial Bowls Club saw a three per cent drop.
City Memorial Bowls Club general manager Julie Dosser said the decrease in expenditure was most likely a result of closures at the club due to a $3 million development.
"We are building a cover over two of our greens, hopefully to encourage more participation in the sport of bowls," she said.
"There's probably been a lot less traffic as we've been down a couple of greens while we are developing. The Cramer Street car park has also been closed."
Portland's Richmond Henty Hotel had the biggest expenditure in Glenelg Shire, with $2,461,589 spent in the last financial year.
That figure was down two per cent from the year before.
Bethany Community Support South West Services executive manager Sharlene Gillicksaid gambling harm was a public health issue that affected not only individuals but also their families, friends and whole communities.
"Problem gambling is often hidden and remains undetected and untreated until associated problems like financial and relational difficulties become overt," she said.
"Gambling harm can include financial distress, relationship and family concerns, loss of employment or inability to maintain employment and mental health impacts.
"We know that people experiencing gambling harm have greater mental health concerns, sometimes undiagnosed, and often a co-morbidity of alcohol or drug abuse or family violence.
"Whilst most gambling activities are legal and highly regulated, many people gamble and are seen to be in the low risk group of gamblers."
If you need help, contact the Lifeline gambling helpline on 1800 858 858.
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