Punters dropped nearly$36.3 million into Hawke's Bay pokie machines last year - about $99,500 each day - but the number has fallen.
Gambling machine expenditure in the region fell during the 12 months to December, down $1.93m from 2011, reveal figures from the Department of Internal Affairs reveal
The number of pokie machines also fell, down 49 to 2804 last year.
Addiction service provider Te Rangihaeata Oranga Trust warned addicted gamblers sometimes turned to theft to fuel their habit.
"They can't control themselves anymore - they might be stealing money, telling lies [and] might be using other people's cars," manager Annette Harris said.
"It's quite devastating."
Online gambling games could also lead to larger issues with gambling down the track, she said.
"They [young people] are playing a lot of games on Facebook that are free which is sort of like priming them up."
Nationally, Kiwis spent nearly $840 million on pokie machines last year - $27.1m (3.1 per cent) less than the previous year.
The number of gaming machines declined, from 18,133 to 17,670. There were also 29 fewer gaming machine venues compared with 2011. The Problem Gambling Foundation said the figures were encouraging.
"It certainly indicates that people are starting to understand about pokie machines and how addictive and dangerous they are," spokeswoman Andree Froude said.
"We want to see sinking-lid policies in place in our communities and that will help reduce the harm and enormous social cost and impact of problem gambling."
Thirty-seven per cent of gaming machine proceeds must be returned to the community, according to the Gambling Act.
Ms Froude said about 40 per cent of money dropped into pokies was spent by people who had a gambling problem and many could not afford it.
Research also showed there were more pokie machines in poorer areas.
The Problem Gambling Foundation has warned that proposed changes to the Gambling Act, which would enable pub and bar owners to take profit on pokie machines if implemented, would lead to more problem gambling.