Melton gamblers lost a record amount on gaming machines in the past 12 months, continuing a six-year trend of growing losses.

Almost $68 million was lost within the City of Melton in the 2018-19 financial year, up from $66 million in the previous year, $49.3 million in 2010-11 and $24 million in 2002-03, according to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

Seven venues in Melton operate electronic gaming machines, sharing 515 machines in total.

Melton community planning manager Matt Wilson said the council was working hard to reduce the harm of pokies losses.

“Our work is focused on reducing the impact of the design and availability of gambling products, preventing exposure to young people and minors and challenging normalisation of electronic gaming machines,” he said.

“Council is committed to preventing and reducing the harms of gambling and we work to align with current health promotion and prevention practice.

“Earlier this year, council adopted a Planning Scheme Amendment (C182) that included a Local Planning Policy in Gaming.”

Moorabool gamblers lost $12.3 million on pokies for the 2018-19 year – up from $11.9 million the previous year, while nearby Brimbank topped the state again with $142.9 million in losses.

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello said Victorian pokies losses were about more than money.

“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives via suicide,” he said. “Then there is the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and much more due to gambling harm.

“We call on the Victorian government to outlaw the predatory and addictive features on poker machines that trick people into believing they are winning when they are actually losing money.

“These losses disguised as wins and near misses are just abuse of punters and are frankly immoral.”