Pokies Reform

The rich get richer

The poor get the picture

(Midnight Oil)

About 12 billion dollars is lost on poker machines (pokies, slot machines) each year in Australia.

Can you believe that figure!

Problem gamblers can lose more than $1,000 an hour on the pokies.

An old friend (now ex-friend) of our family lost nearly $200,000 on the pokies and almost ended up in jail from fraudulent activities.

Many Australians will have similar stories to tell. It’s not pretty.

The Government is planning to introduce a system of mandatory pre-commitment to help problem gamblers.

‘Mandatory pre-commitment simply means that pokie players, before they start gambling, must set their own daily limit: a maximum amount they are prepared to lose for the day.

The Productivity Commission has recommended mandatory pre-commitment as the way to help problem gamblers, calling it a ‘strong, practicable and ultimately cost-effective option for harm minimisation’. It doesn’t mean finger-printing or excessive ID requirements – it requires about the same ID as it takes to enter a club, and gives Australians a choice about how much to gamble.’ (source: Getup)

This initiative will help gamblers. The people making big bikkies from the gambling industry know this, and are furious. They are crying poor and making all sorts of unsubstantiated claims about how it is going to be the end of life as we know it in Australia.

When one of Australia’s richest men (part of the 1 % we have all been talking about) James Packer, starts whinging about the impact of this initiative on the clubs, you entitled to be a little dubious (also entitled to gafaw loudly into your wheatbix).

Think about this. If you own a club or a pub that makes a mint from the money spewing into poker machines, than you are making that money primarily from the pockets of problem gamblers, who spend hours on these machines. Your average Joe, without a problem in the gambling arena, is not going to put too much cash down the pokies.

If that is a good thing, then I will eat my hat.

If you are happy with that situation, than it seems that you are happy to turn a blind eye to the harm that is caused to the problem gambler. Maybe you couldn’t give a toss about the problem gambler (they did bring it on themselves some would say), but even so, what about the families (the children, the wives, the husbands) and the friends of the gambler.

The impacts of gambling can be felt throughout all communites in this country.

It wasn’t that long ago that Queensland had NO poker machines – and guess what, the world didn’t come to an end; the clubs and pubs survived (and actually entertained their customers in a number of creative ways without the need for the ‘odious and soul destroying’* poker machine). I remember going to my local soccer club as a kid and watching family movies, playing games, eating and drinking – a good time was had by all, the club made money, and no-one was losing $3,000 during the evening on poker machines.

If the only way clubs and pubs can make money is via problem gamblers losing big on poker machines, then they need to look carefully at their business model and their conscience.

It is time for pokies reform.

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* quote from Selma Sargent on twitter

Note: you can pop over to Brad’s place for another persuasive text on the issue 😉

Photo from Wikimedia Commons