Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Community

Buying or selling? Get the right advice

Lose the Pokies. An Open Letter to the Legislative Assembly

By Chris Endrey 28 October 2013 35

poker machines

‘If clubs fail, the economic and social contribution they make will also disappear and at the expense of the broader community’

– ClubsACT

Hahahaha. Nope.

Dear ACT Legislative Assembly,

Do we really need pokies in the ACT? It seems cruel to still need to rake over this in 2013, but life’s not all marriage equality and light rail.  Annually, we’re downing around $180m through the bandits, $13m of which goes to ‘community causes’ – mostly sport. After expenses, the clubs get enough for around 333 Sky Whales. Given the raging eye-spasms so many suffered over just one fabulous Sky Whale, I think it’s prudent to talk about what we’re really getting for all this society-defining economic activity.

As ClubsACT love to remind us in the comments section of RiotACT, there are some essential community services funded directly from gaming revenue. However, let’s not sugarcoat it. These benefits come directly from people who’ve lost money gambling in a system that guarantees they will lose.

The proliferation of pokies and the elegance with which they obfuscate their primary function totally obliterates any idea that the free will of gamers is any safeguard against problem gambling. Cigarette companies are forbidden from even branding their products, so powerful is the enticement. With pokies, we’re literally letting the machines sing for, play with, and ultimately bribe potential problem gamblers, potential mental health illness sufferers, potential suicide victims.

The incredible lure of the machines sees more people gambling at the Ainslie Football Club on a weekday than cheering for the footy team they’re funding on the weekend. More people gambling at the Tradies Club than attending ALP branch meetings. These examples go to the the huge irony of it all. While there are some direct community benefits, the machines represent a distortion that ultimately punishes those communities that are unable or unwilling to suckle from the neon teat.

The Tuggeranong Hawks learned the hard way that no pokies means no first grade team. Pokies-free bars, restaurants, sports teams – not to mention musicians, artists, theatre-makers etc. – are forever fundamentally less competitive for patrons/revenue/public spaces than venues whose chief product is, essentially, nothing.

What would the Canberra Musicians Club do with the $25m the Vikings make annually? It’s a ridiculous thought, but no less ridiculous for mine than giving the equivalent power to a rugby club. If community groups don’t have sufficient public support to survive the free market or compete for public funding, it’s a fair indicator there isn’t much of a community they’re servicing.

C’mon Labor– the federal party has rejected tobacco money. You own the plantation on this one. Divest and rebuild trust with the non-clubs community.

Let’s go Liberals – this is the government’s Achilles heel. ACT Labor own 500-odd machines. In 1800s-speak that’s like owning 20,000 slaves. I’m not sure what you guys think of abolition, but let’s let it stand as a separate issue.

Mayor King-Maker Shane – I’m not lobbying you, you don’t have the numbers.

The large part of our society that continues to be built around pokies represents a distortion of incentives that, for all the riches reaped, ultimately leaves our community a far poorer place to live in. Get rid of them already.

If nothing else, Queanbeyan will thank us for the boost to their coffers.

Hopefully yours,

xx Chris xx

P.S. Thanks for the marriage equality.

[Image by Threthny (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)]

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
35 Responses to
Lose the Pokies. An Open Letter to the Legislative Assembly
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
Thumper 7:58 pm 29 Oct 13

Jim Jones said :

Grimm said :

Or, you know, not blame a machine for certain peoples lack of self control? Maybe expect people to take personal responsibility?

Nah, way easier to blame an inanimate object than the idiot throwing all their money into it.

herp derp personal responsibility herp derp

And rather than blame inanimate objects we should also remove all legislation regarding the sale of alcohol and drugs, firearms, anything to do with transport (cars, bikes, trucks, planes, hovercraft) and so on.

Except that Grimm does have a perfectly valid point. At some stage people do need to take control of their lives.

Personally, if they destroyed every machine I couldn’t care less, they are a blight on society. However, simply dismissing someone’s opinion but ridicule is not going to help.

pepmeup 6:05 pm 29 Oct 13

A $1 max bet is about a 5 c a line with the older machines particularly the aristocrat type are all 20 lines so 5c a line by max lines is a $1 bet. Newer machines have more lines and “reel power” but I still think $1 max is fine.

Grrrr 5:27 pm 29 Oct 13

I went to a club the other week, where the playground for kids was impressive. The kids were equally impressed with the shiny arcade games next to the playground – half of which appeared to be specially designed gateway-to-gambling devices. It’s all slightly evil.

I like the cut of your jib, Chris.

Screw you, Pokies dens.

Deref 5:11 pm 29 Oct 13

pepmeup said :

The original productivity study into pokies suggested at $1 per spin maximum, this would limit losses to about $200 an hour, rather than the $1800 an hour you can currently loose. This seems to be the best idea to me.

Firstly it is low cost implementation for the clubs as machines can easily be changed from dollar machines to 1c machines.

Secondly all those who seem to like to put a few dollars through wont be affected as they will still be able to without “having to get a licence to gamble”

Basically people could still have fun on the machines with out losing the pay check in under an hour.

why shouldn’t we start this in the ACT where the labor party and the unions own most the pokies.

Yep. Though 5c would be much better than $1.

pepmeup 4:46 pm 29 Oct 13

The original productivity study into pokies suggested at $1 per spin maximum, this would limit losses to about $200 an hour, rather than the $1800 an hour you can currently loose. This seems to be the best idea to me.

Firstly it is low cost implementation for the clubs as machines can easily be changed from dollar machines to 1c machines.

Secondly all those who seem to like to put a few dollars through wont be affected as they will still be able to without “having to get a licence to gamble”

Basically people could still have fun on the machines with out losing the pay check in under an hour.

why shouldn’t we start this in the ACT where the labor party and the unions own most the pokies.

astrojax 4:17 pm 29 Oct 13

the machines represent a distortion that ultimately punishes those communities that are unable or unwilling to suckle from the neon teat.

i believe the author intends, ‘…unwilling to wean from the neon teat.’

nice metaphor, but!

regarding the issue at large, it is a little harsh on clubs, who have come to rely on this income stream, but they have a responsibility, as the op notes. some suggestions herein are good – limit the % of space bandits can make up in recreation areas within a club, pop them away in an enclosed space and, of course, anyway take up the senator’s suggestion to limit the amount a person can spend – precommitment, is it?

as for what the poor stressed tradie/exec/blue rinse set should do – bring back pinnies!

where does one find a decent selection of bally tables to play these days??

Jim Jones 4:08 pm 29 Oct 13

Grimm said :

Jim Jones said :

Grimm said :

Or, you know, not blame a machine for certain peoples lack of self control? Maybe expect people to take personal responsibility?

Nah, way easier to blame an inanimate object than the idiot throwing all their money into it.

herp derp personal responsibility herp derp

And rather than blame inanimate objects we should also remove all legislation regarding the sale of alcohol and drugs, firearms, anything to do with transport (cars, bikes, trucks, planes, hovercraft) and so on.

Yeah, lets ignore the fact that pokies are already heavily regulated…

You don’t really get the whole ‘logical debate’ thing, do you?

Deref 3:45 pm 29 Oct 13

Ghettosmurf87 said :

It’s like saying anyone that is poor/unsuccessful simply hasn’t tried hard enough or that anyone that anyone who gets beaten up is just too weak.

That’s precisely what US-style fundamentalist Christianity does, and they make billions out of it. The principle is that, if you’re poor, God’s punishing you for not being a good enough Christian and anyone who helps you, specifically through government programs, is flying in the face of God’s will and doing the Devil’s work. Conversely, if you’re rich and successful, that’s God’s reward for being a Good Christian ™. If you want to change your situation, only the church can help you to be a better Christian and, thus, rich and successful. It’s the modern-day equivalent of the medieval sale of plenary indulgences.

Don’t, by any means, underestimate the influence that that kind of thinking has here too, particularly among our newly-elected federal government. It may not be quite so overt, but the principle’s the same: you and no-one else, are responsible for your situation and it’s not government’s job to help you.

Thanks to Grimm for perfectly illustrating the position.

Grimm 3:32 pm 29 Oct 13

Jim Jones said :

Grimm said :

Or, you know, not blame a machine for certain peoples lack of self control? Maybe expect people to take personal responsibility?

Nah, way easier to blame an inanimate object than the idiot throwing all their money into it.

herp derp personal responsibility herp derp

And rather than blame inanimate objects we should also remove all legislation regarding the sale of alcohol and drugs, firearms, anything to do with transport (cars, bikes, trucks, planes, hovercraft) and so on.

Yeah, lets ignore the fact that pokies are already heavily regulated…

Ghettosmurf87 3:27 pm 29 Oct 13

Grimm said :

Or, you know, not blame a machine for certain peoples lack of self control? Maybe expect people to take personal responsibility?

Nah, way easier to blame an inanimate object than the idiot throwing all their money into it.

Except that psychological manipulation isn’t just some made-up conspiracy, it exists and it is something that pokie machine manufacturers/operators have bought into big time.

Most people ARE able to maintain their self-control, but the manufactures of pokie machines design them to maximise their ability to latch onto people who are susceptible. It’s why their are all the sounds, the random features, the flashing lights. Hell, while not used in Australia, there have certainly been manufacturers/operators who’ve even employed specific smells to increase the likelihood of people both playing for the first time as well as continuing to play.

Pokies even make people think they’ve “won” when they actually lose, by saying that a return of say 10c from a $1 bet is a “win”, flashing the lights and making the sounds etc, when in fact the person just lost 90c on that spin.

It’s a far more complex version of the classical conditioning methods seen in the age old Pavlov’s Dog psychological manipulation.

A blanket argument that anyone that is actually manipulated by these techniques lacks self-control does not help anyone. It’s like saying anyone that is poor/unsuccessful simply hasn’t tried hard enough or that anyone that anyone who gets beaten up is just too weak.

Jim Jones 3:20 pm 29 Oct 13

Grimm said :

Or, you know, not blame a machine for certain peoples lack of self control? Maybe expect people to take personal responsibility?

Nah, way easier to blame an inanimate object than the idiot throwing all their money into it.

herp derp personal responsibility herp derp

And rather than blame inanimate objects we should also remove all legislation regarding the sale of alcohol and drugs, firearms, anything to do with transport (cars, bikes, trucks, planes, hovercraft) and so on.

Grimm 2:31 pm 29 Oct 13

Or, you know, not blame a machine for certain peoples lack of self control? Maybe expect people to take personal responsibility?

Nah, way easier to blame an inanimate object than the idiot throwing all their money into it.

DrKoresh 1:43 pm 29 Oct 13

It might help if they started enforcing the rules about not allowing drunk people to play the pokies. The only time they’re even a little fun is when you’re toasted, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to play the pokies with a clear head.

watto23 12:23 pm 29 Oct 13

Actually i think moving the pokies into more enclosed and out of the way areas is a start. And maybe a reduction of pokies as well. Better still suggest to clubs if they won’t reduce their pokie numbers they’ll issue licenses to the casino…. that will get them moving.

Although i’m amazed at how many people put $50-100 a week into lotto as well. Maybe less socially destroying than the poker machines.

As a member of a few social and sports clubs, there is truth in the matter that the licensed clubs do provide a good service. But at the same time they are making money of people who can’t control their gamblings. Like everything the political will to touch poker machines is just not there. The libs won’t do it, because I bet half the problem gamblers vote for liberal anyway.

Deref 11:37 am 29 Oct 13

harvyk1 said :

It’s not just the gambling industry which is guilty of using psychologist’s to push their wears. Stepped foot in a wollies or coles lately? It’s no accident as to the relatively standard layout they have for their stores, and it’s not to help you find things, otherwise they wouldn’t make very slight changes every so often.

It’s psychological manipulation, no question about it. I recommend that you read the classic tome on the subject: The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard.

Still, it’s far less insidious than the pokies. The worst that can happen is that you’ll fall for the ploy and buy an extra chocolate bar or a more expensive brand of detergent. You won’t become hooked and blow your pension cheque on jelly beans.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
the-riotact.com | aboutregional.com.au | b2bmagazine.com.au | thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site