The amount of money that went through pokies in Whanganui during a three-month period last year has been recorded as the second highest amount for the decade.
Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) statistics show just over $2.8 million went into Whanganui pokies during the September 2019 quarter.
It's the second highest quarterly spend in Whanganui between 2010 and 2019, and is just $15,000 less than the $2,823,017 spent in the September 2010 quarter.
During that time Whanganui had five more gaming venues and 57 more gaming machines compared with September 2019.
Mayor Hamish McDouall said the amount spent was appalling.
"Gambling is legal, however, when you're getting records being set; it's just not good enough.
"When [gambling] moves beyond fun and becomes a lifestyle it's damaging to families, yourself and the community."
The increase in Whanganui follows an overall trend in New Zealand, with more than $244m being spent nationally for the September 2019 quarter.
The figure is $10.5m up on the previous three months in 2019 and $9.6m up on the September 2018 quarter.
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Figures for the December 2019 quarter are expected to be released next month.
In 2017, Whanganui District Council introduced a "sinking lid policy" under its Gambling Venues Policy which has seen the number of machines drop from 225 to 208 according to the DIA data.
Concerns were raised by some Whanganui residents last year after 18 gaming machines were allowed to be moved to a new premises, however compliance operations manager Warrick Zander said relocating machines is permitted under certain circumstances.
According to the DIA figures, there was one less venue recorded from the June to September quarter in 2019; however it shows the number of machines within the district increased by one over the same period.
Questions put to Whanganui District Council about the increase of machines under the sinking lid policy were directed to the Department of Internal Affairs.
The council's Gambling Venues Policy is due to be reviewed before the end of November this year.
"We need to sit and listen to the community, and also listen to the hospitality industry," McDouall said.
"We put a lot of effort into it last time and to see [the spending] is discouraging.
"If we could say all that money is being redistributed in the community, I would be saying that's the cloud's silver lining and one good thing, but I recall figures last time in which that wasn't the case.
"We'll be looking pretty carefully at how great this spend is, and also we'll hear evidence no doubt from health professionals about the effect on mental health in Whanganui as well."
A portion of gaming machine profit is used for funding for the likes of amateur sports clubs, and community and cultural groups.
The Rangitikei District also saw an increase in spending with $769,923 put into pokies in the September 2019 quarter, up $98,000 on the same period in 2018.
Out of all districts in the Horizons region, Ruapehu and Horowhenua were the only areas to see a decrease in spending for the quarter.
Ngā Tai O Te Awa's Charles Chadwick, who helps problem gamblers in Whanganui, said it was disappointing to see a rise in spending.
The organisation regularly helps more than 10 people in the district deal with gambling addiction and although the amount being spent has increased, the number of people seeking help through Ngā Tai O Te Awa has remained steady.
In previous years the organisation has run the local leg of the Problem Gambling Foundation initiative Pause the Pokies, however the programme was not run in Whanganui in 2019.
Chadwick said Ngā Tai O Te Awa will make a submission when the Gambling Venues Policy is reviewed this year.