New data shows south-east Queenslanders are spending millions of dollars a day on poker machines, with the number of problem gamblers on the rise.
The figures show more than $52 million was gambled and lost on the pokies in Brisbane last month, more than $71,500 an hour.
These figures show an increase of $12 million spent since February.
On the Gold Coast, residents sunk $36.1 million into poker machines last month, while Logan residents spent $17.3 million.
Gambling experts say while the prevalence of gambling in Australia has dropped over the last 10 years, the number of problem gamblers is increasing.
Ten per cent of problem gamblers have been classed as having some level of addiction.
Alex Russell from the Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory said easy access to poker machines was part of the problem.
“Australians are the biggest losers worldwide when it comes to gambling,” Professor Russell said.
“We lose on average around $1300 a head and that’s more than twice just about every other country.
“We have pokies in pubs and clubs most other countries don’t.”
He said many had turned to using poker machines during the pandemic, adding the popular gambling method is also one of the most addictive.
“COVID has been pretty stressful for a lot of people and we know when people are stressed they turn to things to cope,” Mr Russell said.
“It could be drinking, it could be the pokies.
“You don’t really pay attention to what’s on the screen until all of a sudden pressing buttons doesn’t give you a spin anymore because you’ve run out of money.”
Simon Gregory from the Salvation Army said poker machine addiction had destroyed countless lives and families, urging those struggling with addiction to reach out for help.
“Gambling can be a hobby,” he said.
“But it also can be such an insidious problem for those who become addicted and can’t see a way out, and see gambling as the way to make it rich or to get out of their problems.”