I almost laughed out loud this morning when I trawled through the online papers and found that one Andrew Clennell had published articles in the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph about fingerprinting pokie players.
Not that this is funny, but it’s such an obvious beatup. If Clennell is to be believed, then fingerprinting is the preferred solution to the mandatory pre-commitment question. In fact, he explicitly states that the fingerprinting scheme is known as “mandatory pre-commitment”, in what appears to be a clumsy and misguided attempt to taint the concept in the public eye.
Some facts (which Clennell either ignored, or placed later in his articles after the damage was already done) :
* Mandatory pre-commitment is the practice of ensuring all gamblers nominate how much they want to spend. It is not exclusively fingerprinting pokie players.
* The biometric proposal is one of several being considered. Decisions are a long way off.
* This is not being done to appease anti-gambling parties. It is being done because of the damage being caused by the poker machines that are operated and protected by the clubs and pubs of Australia.
* Clubs Australia, who have been extremely vocal in their opposition to any kind of pokie reform, are the single largest organisation associated with poker machines in this country.
Of course, Clennell quotes Clubs Australia Anthony Ball in his Daily Telegraph article. Ball is quite fond of sensationalist and inaccurate quotes, and this is no exception. Claiming that mandatory pre-commitment will treat pokie players as criminals? Ball’s organisation has been treating pokie players as cash cows and second-class citizens for decades, so it’s no surprise he makes this correlation.
It disturbs me that our papers, who claim to support the push to minimise problem gambling, would print such blatant industry propaganda disguised as news. The Daily Telegraph, especially, ran an editorial today talking about how they were at the forefront of opposition to “rampant poker machine proliferation”. Wonder if they read Clennell’s article before they published it?
I have no doubt the industry, and the clubs specifically, are behind this. They’re mobilising to fight the mandatory pre-commitment issue with everything they have… when they could put their money and energy into finding alternative revenue streams. That would really be a case of looking after their members and the community.