I read the news today; oh boy…
Did anybody else see this? An article on the Age website this morning, “Train late but pokies full steam ahead.” The article covers the fact that the VCGR has approved an additional 70 poker machines for a new hotel in Sanctuary Lakes, despite the following seemingly relevant points:
Now I would have thought that just a few of these reasons would be enough to force the VCGR to say NO to the proposed increase in machines in this area. Put them all together and it seems to be an open and shut case. Not so.
It seems the VCGR has other things on it’s mind than the welfare of our community and the plight of problem gamblers. They came out with this staggering quote:
While spending on machines rises, the population is growing at a greater rate, lessening concerns about average expenditure and density of machines.
In other words, more money will be spent on gambling, but more people are moving into the area so that’s ok. Huh? Run that past me again?
The article closes with this statement, which left me speechless:
The commission also found the benefits associated with the new poker machines outweighed problem gambling concerns.
Acceptable losses, anyone? Collateral damage? I realise that a minor proportion of gambling revenue has to go to “social activities”, which in reality is a grey area that many of our AFL clubs already exploit. And yes, a new gaming venue will create (some) jobs. So the VCGR says that makes it all right. Forget all of the points I listed above; forget the social impact which includes financial hardship, domestic breakdown and violence and all of the associated costs and impacts that go hand in hand with problem gambling. Forget all that, because the good (supposedly) outweighs the bad.
The end justifies the means.
This makes me sick.
Of course, the VCGR is not in the habit of refusing applications for poker machines. Take a quick look through the stats on their own website and it’s clear that they’re in the business of rubber-stamping all but the most ridiculous requests.
This insanity has to end. I’m not one to say we need to get rid of pokies altogether, even though I can’t stand the things. But why shoe-horn more into an area that already has more than enough? An area that lost more than $79 million in the past financial year, just on pokies?
Just don’t ask the VCGR. They’ll only say, why not?