It’s been a little quiet on the news front over the past few days, especially after the club-driven frenzy over fingerprinting and pre-commitment technology. Still, there’s always something going on.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that Clubs Australia was writing to each of its 10 million members, urging them to tell their MPs not to support mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines. Well, as it happens I’ve got my hands on a copy of one of these letters, and it makes for interesting, if predictable, reading.
The first thing I take exception with is that the clubs are making every effort to pin pre-commitment technology on the deal between Julia Gillard and Andrew Wilkie. This deal was only struck to win his vote, they say. It’s a high price to pay for one vote. Wilkie only got 13,000 votes in the election, yet he’s calling the shots. And he’s never visited our club.
This is classic misdirection. What the clubs fail to say is that the Labor party was already a firm supporter of pre-commitment technology for poker machines. In fact, when the PC Report into Gambling was released in June, the only recommendation that the government initially supported was the introduction of pre-commitment technology. Further, there is a letter accessible on the Clubs’ websites, from the ALP, stating their support of pre-commitment technology, that pre-dates the federal election. So to say that the ALP has only agreed to this to win Wilkie’s vote is absurd.
The letter goes on to list the actions that the government has committed to, namely a $250 limit on ATM withdrawals in venues, and of course, pre-commitment technology. And then comes the biggest lie of all.
The last section of the letter is titled “WHY DOES THE CLUB OPPOSE THESE MEASURES?” It states:
* these measures treat all members as irresponsible and as problem gamblers
* members should be able to access their money in their club
* members are already able to set limits on poker machine play like responsible adults
* members should not be told by the government how much they can spend
* these measures will result in job cuts, increased prices and less community support
* punters will stop coming to clubs and will gamble online
The truth of the matter is that clubs with poker machines derive almost all of their revenue from gambling. This means that a significant percentage of it comes from problem gamblers. Rather than try to help those who need it most, they will turn a blind eye to this fact and do whatever it takes to protect that revenue stream, even if it means more pain and suffering for problem gamblers and those close to them.
The clubs could investigate alternative revenue-raising options; some already do. They could decide that their real responsibility is to the community rather than to their pokies and their salaries. They could work with the government to try and reform the gambling industry once and for all, and surely that would be a great community service.
But instead, they contact the media and get articles written about the pain and suffering they believe these measures will cause. They organise letter-writing campaigns rejecting pre-commitment technology. And they propagate the myth that problem gamblers are nothing more than irresponsible, when in fact the vast majority are addicted and in need of help.
I know I’ve said much of this before. But when I read something as blatantly false and manipulative as this letter, I also know I just have to say it again. The clubs pretend to care, yet they construct a form letter and customise it to make it look like it comes from “your club”. They don’t care… at least, not about the right things.
This letter campaign does nothing more than show how self-serving and scared the clubs have become. They are the biggest gambling addicts of all.