Canberrans prevented from playing pokies close to home due to coronavirus restrictions are crossing the border to NSW, with estimates up to 40 per cent of patrons of border town clubs are from the ACT.
Clubs ACT Chief Executive Gwyn Rees said reports coming from pubs and clubs in Queanbeyan were that almost half of those signing in were from Canberra.
Mr Rees said NSW clubs were seeing an extraordinary turnaround in food and beverage trade, while ACT clubs remained closed to gamblers.
Queanbeyan Leagues Club general manager Jeremy Wyatt confirmed that since NSW had been given the green light to reopen on June 1, they had been busier than ever.
"Our trade has been up since reopening when compared to pre COVID-19 restrictions, we think largely due to the increase in patronage from the ACT," Mr Wyatt said.
"Broadly speaking, we know we have had an increase in patronage from ACT residents as every person must register when they enter the club.
"The club has performed well since restrictions, even with all the extra work involved in cleaning, monitoring social distancing and other requirements that come with having a COVID-safe business."
Clubs and pubs in NSW, the Northern Territory and South Australia all opened to gaming in June, with Victoria flagging a July 20 opening prior to its surge in coronavirus cases.
Following a written submission to chief health officer Kerryn Coleman, ACT Clubs had hoped to reboot poker machines with the planned transition to stage three restrictions on July 10.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr's July announcement that Canberra would take a more cautious approach than previously planned saw pokies, casinos, strip clubs and brothels banned from opening.
Mr Rees said clubs and gaming were now in operation in every other state and territory with the exception of Victoria.
"Clubs have offered to implement a range of measures to allay any concerns by the ACT CHO, but we have had no response and no explanation of why ACT residents are allowed to access gaming machines in Queanbeyan, which is effectively a suburb of Canberra, but not in our other suburbs."
Relationships Australia chief executive Alison Brook said the service provider had received reports of Queanbeyan clubs doing a roaring trade, a consequence of an unco-ordinated approach with NSW.
Ms Brooks said a more insidious concern was the largely unregulated online gambling industry.
"The problem with that is you haven't got trained attendants observing what's going on in the gaming room when you're doing the same thing on a computer screen," she said.
"That worries me potentially more than gamblers crossing the border."