A few of the region's publicans have revealed how they took a firm stand against the devastating impact of poker machines in their towns.
According to the Wesley Mission, a staggering 1.7 million people in NSW have lost an estimated $2.18 billion in the third quarter of last year to pokies based on Liquor and Gambling NSW's recently released data.
Gilgandra Railway Hotel owner Donna Sant said she has previously run pubs with poker machines and seen the damage on families and households.
"I've seen men and women put their payroll on the pokies while their kids run around without shoes or food," she said.
"The social impact is widespread it depletes a household of money that could have been spent on more important basics."
Within the Dubbo region, local pokie players at clubs spent more than $13 million between December 2021 to May 2022 and nearly $11 million at local hotels, the Liquor and Gambling NSW data has revealed.
In Gilgandra where Mrs Sant's circa 1910 pub is, she has earned three-and-a-half stars from the online pub location facts and reviews, and she's proud to host anyone to her popular pub which prides itself on being a "no pokies pub".
"The types of crowds we attract as a no-pokies pub are workers and families who come every day with $100 to have an excellent feed, chat with friends, and go home with change in their pockets," she said.
"If they gambled that $100 on pokies, that's gone in a couple of minutes, so people who come here feel good about being here."
Mrs Sant has been a publican for 35 years now, after working as a nurse at Dubbo Base Hospital, and decided she would operate her businesses without poker machines because she that she believed they "destroyed the social atmosphere" country pubs are known for.
Mrs Sant said she was proud of her business success which operated without poker machines and though she recently listed her pub for sale for health reasons, she was not in a hurry and would wait for the right buyer to come along.
"I love working here, meeting people, preparing food for them, or sponsoring the cricket team, the rugby kids. I need to look after my health for now," she said.
One of the other reasons she is hanging up the boots is the chronic lack of hospitality staff which has seen her and her son and co-owner Joseph Micallef work more than 70 hours a week and often run with four staff instead of having nine.
Tracey Haraki has operated one of the oldest pubs in the region, the Drovers Dog Tavern Hotel at Eumungerie, just 38 kilometres north of Dubbo, for nearly 10 years.
For the same reason as Mrs Sant, Ms Haraki declined to get a license for even one poker machine as she believed that would ultimately "expose" the town's families and children to gambling.
"The customers who come here are mostly locals that bring their kids along, and I find it easier to run a business that won't expose them to gambling being a small pub, we don't want pokies here," Ms Haraki said.
Previously a farmer and gold miner, Ms Haraki said by running a tiny old family-oriented tavern in a town of fewer than 200 people, she "won't be able to pay out if anybody hit the jackpot".
To make enough profit from pokies, Ms Haraki said, she would need at least 20 poker machines and there was no way she could afford it.
The licensee of Armatree Hotel, Dan Wright, said the hotel he manages is owned by Sydney-based businessman Robert Murphy and has operated without a single poker machine or a TAB for a long time.
Knowing that the hotel he has run in the last five months has not allowed gambling was one of the reasons he was attracted to work there.
"We believe that poker machines are extremely damaging to the community and small communities like Armatree can ill afford to have people with gambling problems on top of all other issues small communities face," he said.
Wesley Mission chief executive and gambling reform advocate Stu Cameron said the more than $2 billion lost to pokies in three months in NSW was "unthinkable when people are struggling with escalating food, fuel and energy prices."
"These numbers confirm that is exactly what is happening, this is nothing short of a public health crisis," he said.
Wesley Mission has advocated for the NSW government to initiate its proposed five key gambling reform measures that called for universal cashless gambling, no poker machines after midnight, allowing independent exclusion register, making public the list of venues, and allow communities to have their say on poker machines.