MORE than $4 million was spent at the pokies in Ararat during the past year, new data has revealed.
In the year ending in June 2022, $4,188,923.57 was expended across Ararat's two electronic gambling machine venues - with a total of 88 machines.
Pokies expenditure in the municipality was down for June 2022, with $471,173.30 spent compared to $706,310.60 in May 2022.
In nearby Northern Grampians Shire, $3,657,235.73 was lost at the pokies for the year ending in June 2022 across 80 electronic gambling machines.
Horsham Rural City Council saw $8,918,822.77 lost across 152 electronic gambling machines.
Gambling advocacy groups have said the losses were concerning and called for "significant reforms" to stop increasing pokies losses in the regions.
Alliance for Gambling Reform chief executive Carol Bennett said the first half of 2022 saw "record breaking" losses, peaking in April.
"The first half of 2022 record breaking poker machine losses across the state for Victoria, with April 2022 seeing the most money ever lost on poker machines in Victoria, the impact that will be having on families and communities is massive, especially following the pandemic," she said.
Ms Bennett said rural local government areas were heavily impacted by rising gambling losses - pointing to the Rural City of Wodonga, which has seen a 47.56 per cent rise in losses in the past year, and Mildura, which saw a 21.56 per cent increase.
"There has been increases across the state, however it is very startling to see such significant increases in our regional communities who may be further from seeking in person support from counsellors," she said.
"This cements the need for significant reforms to prevent gambling harm and stop these losses continuing to rise. We need a reduction in opening hours, a reduction in the maximum bet and a universal pre-commitment scheme to support people setting limits and sticking to them."
Phone Gambler's Help on 1800 858 858, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.