For decades now, Australia’s poker machine industry has hammered home a number of self-serving points. Don’t blame us, they say. We’re simply providing a legal form of entertainment that most people enjoy without harm. It’s the few who can’t control themselves who ruin it for everyone else. And hardly anyone who plays the pokies really has a gambling problem anyway. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that it’s all a lie. All of it. Everyone who regularly plays a poker machine suffers as a consequence… every single person.

A few weeks ago, when it was revealed that a tent company had paid for Coalition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison’s trip to Nauru, I joked that the Coalition would probably end up outsourcing their gambling policy to Clubs Australia. It was a throwaway line that got a few laughs.

I’m not laughing any longer… because that’s exactly what has happened.

Picture this.

The government, belatedly realising that the poker machine industry has gone too far in its quest to maximise profits, decides to act. They announce that as a measure to combat problem gambling, the maximum bet on poker machines will be slashed. An aggressive timeframe is put in place; industry has two months to ensure all new machines comply, and within two years all poker machines, new and old, must meet the new standard.