collateral damage

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:

  • the local Wyndham council objected to the machines
  • the current average annual spend on pokies per adult in Wyndham is expected to grow to $780, against the metropolitan average of $687
  • three poker machine venues already exist within the new venue’s proposed 5km catchment area
  • the forecast losses (by gamblers) on the new machines is $9.7 million in the first year alone
  • Wyndham already has a greater-than-average number of poker machines for metropolitan municipalities
  • 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?


    1 Response

    1. Aaron says:

      You need to look deeper. Compare the median wage of Wyndham against the median wage of the metropolitan area.

      Then look at the median wage and the population of males up against females.

      Understand the turnover of the venues in question in the Whyndham area and compare them against the likes of pension day.

      What is their employment rate?

      You have to understand that gambling statistics are easily manipulated into a form of confirmation bias.

      The problems don’t solely lie in the amount of pokie machines per person in that populated region. I notice that you have read the 2007 gambling report that was about 80 pages long in which each council had to write a long report on how gambling affects their community and what can be done to rectify the situation.

      It’s the education of a particular personality. And the media and their constant misleading reports on winnings and bets taken are hugely inappropiate.

      But we have to be careful as to how far we want to take….censorship. We don’t want to be like North Korea. People still should be allowed to make their own choices. But we need to educate communities much better.

      Knowing the odds isn’t a deterrent. Far from. The gambling world is its own community. No matter whether you gamble alone online or at venues.

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