Gambling statistics from the second half of 2020 show pubs and clubs in Bathurst raking in a staggering net profit of $500,000 a week from their pokies.
One wonders what former NSW premiers Nick Greiner and Bob Carr would make of this disturbing figure, given the former first allowed "card machines" into pubs, and the latter green lighted pubs having pokies.
In the middle of a pandemic, local clubs and hotels managed to increase their combined six-month pokie profit by 17 percent, or more than $2 million.
Granted, taxes are paid, and profits can be used to cover wages, loss-making areas of the venue and modest grants to sporting groups, but at what cost to the community overall?
Today's pokies are sophisticated pieces of kit designed and built by smart people. The art, lighting, sounds, music, near-wins and lure of jackpots are all expertly designed with one goal - to keep you playing.
Of course, slots are far from the only problem.
The blizzard of advertisements across a variety of platforms for online gambling companies is only becoming more intense. They can be slick and funny and often feature boofy blokes, young women or celebrities just having the best time of it.
While pokies tend to attract an older demographic, the betting apps - allowed to roam almost at will across our screens and through our speakers via endless ads - are sinking their teeth into younger generations with a pitch that suggests sport is no fun if you're not betting on it. Worse, you're no fun.
These ubiquitous advertising pitches are made at great expense by multinationals.
Australia should never ban gambling, but tighter regulation may stem the damage.
Governments have developed chronic addictions to gambling revenue. The time for them to admit they - and by extension we - have a problem is now.