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Poker machine reform

Wow! Just like that, the next Tasmanian election became important. The Tasmanian Liberal Party have been nowhere near as incompetent, corrupt or divisive as their federal counterparts. Add to that some comparatively progressive positions on refugees and Marriage Equality and they are closer to their Labor opposition than the federal government. Well they were close. But then Labor leader, Rebecca White, announced her party would phase out poker machines over the next five years and the Tasmanian people have been presented with a clear choice. With politicians in other states no doubt watching on with interest, the upcoming battle over poker machine reform will be important.

As in other states of Australia, the harm done to the Tasmanian community by poker machines is significant and widespread. The 2017 Tasmanian Parliamentary committee recognised this with its recommendation that the industry should be significantly reformed and the number of machines reduced. And the Hodgman government did next to nothing.

The parliamentary committee reported that nearly 200 million dollars are spent on poker machines in Tasmania annually. According to a report commissioned by Anglicare, around a third of this comes from problem gamblers. But these problem gamblers are not the only people who suffer from poker machines. The economic hardship and struggles with addiction contribute to a range of other societal harms such as family breakdown, crime, suicide, intergenerational poverty and neglect.

The Anglicare report further noted that the majority of money lost to poker machines exits the state economy through lease fees and private shareholders. If even a fraction of this money was diverted from the machines and retained in Tasmania, it would be worth tens of millions of dollars to the Tasmanian economy and create hundreds of jobs.

Sounds like a no-brainer. What’s the catch?
While poker machines are unambiguously poison to Tasmanian society, the proposal to phase them out is still a high-risk strategy for the Tasmanian Labor Party, and one that its counterparts in other states will watch carefully. Let’s not forget, there is a lot of money and vested interest in the gambling industry. Predictably, it took no time at all for this policy to draw heat from a number of high profile sources in government and the industry. Greg Farrell’s hyperbolic statement on behalf of the Federal Group threatened legal action and the entire company withdrawing its operations from Tasmania.

Just as the speed and the source of these attacks were no surprise, neither were the arguments made against the policy. Broadly speaking, there are three main arguments against Labor’s pokies policy, which will be employed in any state that attempts to reduce the pervasive influence of poker machines. None of them are entirely frivolous, so they deserve consideration. However none provide sufficient justification to counter Labor’s policy either.

“It will cost jobs,”
The first argument that opponents of the policy rely on is the impact on people’s jobs. This is usually the first argument against any policy, regularly spoken in grim voices by people whose jobs are never really in danger. Despite my distaste for lattes and chardonnay, I’m still about as middle class as you can get, so I have to own that it won’t be my job that is affected. And I really do empathise with those who feel their job is threatened, but let’s consider this argument dispassionately, without jumping at shadows. I would take these claims more seriously if many of the people citing them hadn’t used the same arguments to back slashing penalty rates six months ago, arguing this would promote economic growth and more employment. It hasn’t.

Let’s be honest, exaggerating the threat to jobs is a deliberate propaganda strategy and an over-used one at that. As I noted earlier, the Anglicare study suggested that diverting the millions of dollars spent on poker machines into the Tasmanian economy would actually have the net effect of creating jobs!

But that doesn’t make it any better for the hospitality worker whose job is on the line. I get that. I don’t necessarily accept that venues cannot be profitable without poker machines and that job losses will be anything like what opponents of the policy are claiming, but I’m not going to argue that this policy is cost-free.

However the phasing out of an obsolete or harmful industry never is. I’m sure it cost jobs in the asbestos industry when it was discovered that the fibres were deadly, but it would have cost lives not to do anything about it. In a similar way, the longer poker machines are allowed to reap their harvest of money and misery, the more lives are ruined by them. Similarly, tobacco companies could argue that reducing the restrictions on their advertising and sales would increase production and create more jobs, but they don’t because they understand the simple policy calculus that destroying people’s lives is not justified by the jobs it creates.

Something else to remember is that these changes will not come into place overnight. Ms White has given a reasonable timeframe for people who know their work is at risk to upskill, retrain and look for more secure employment. I sympathise with those who are unable to do so, but not nearly as much as I sympathise with people, especially children, whose lives are being torn apart by gambling addiction in their families. If I have to choose who to protect it’s not a hard choice.

“I don’t need a nanny-state telling me what to do,”
Another argument people will make is about civil liberties and ‘nanny-state’ policies. Sure, the machines are rigged to make money and they have been deliberately designed and refined to prey upon those with addictions, but isn’t it still a person’s right to use them if they so wish? No doubt, we will hear that poker machines aren’t the problem, addicts are the problem and why should those able to gamble responsibly (if you don’t find that an oxymoron) suffer? This is a seductive line of reasoning, as it appeals to our natural sense of fairness and forgets that we live in a fundamentally unfair world. One in which we are ‘punished’ for the behaviours and inadequacies of others on a regular basis. I could use the same argument against speed limits, drug laws, seat belts or gun control. In fact, the next time you hear someone arguing against banning these harmful machines, try replacing the word ‘pokies’ with the word ‘guns’ and see how much they sound like the NRA in America. If you understand why even responsible gun owners can have some of their rights restricted, then you should understand how the same is true for ‘responsible gamblers.’

To anyone who thinks government should not be in the business of restricting our rights, I disagree. Isn’t that exactly their function? That is what making a law does. It determines in what circumstances you can take the actions you want to and often those circumstances are quite restricted. Obviously we don’t want the government trampling on our freedoms unnecessarily. That is why it is important you don’t elect corrupt or incompetent representatives to make decisions about your freedom. But this is a good decision.

“They will just find different ways to gamble,”
It is also argued that the phasing out of poker machines will not have the intended effect, as it will just push gamblers online or to casinos. There is surely a kernel of truth here for some gamblers, but it is sophistry and outright deceit to claim that the current locations of poker machines and their deliberate concentration in particular suburbs does not contribute to the problem. And if Mr Farrell really thought this would drive a significant number of gamblers to his casinos, he wouldn’t be throwing such a tantrum. A recognised concern of the Anglicare study was the phenomena of impulse gambling due to the proximity of poker machines near to where people live. When Tasmanians, especially those prone to addiction- can’t go to their local pub for a counter meal or a drink with a friend without having to resist the pull of the machines, then they are obviously more vulnerable to the associated harms. If a reformed junkie couldn’t go out with their friends without being enticed with a loaded syringe, how hard would it be for them to stay clean? For this reason, unravelling the almost ubiquitous status of these machines is a very important step in combatting the problem.

And don’t forget this IS a problem we are facing. A big one too. The gambling lobby will fight hard and fight dirty, while the Liberal government remain willing accomplices, so don’t forget how much of a disaster poker machines are. Tackling the problem may cost some jobs; it may slightly reduce your options in how people gamble; and it won’t stop all problem gambling. But it WILL reduce the damage. It shouldn’t be a hard decision.

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  1. Chris

    I lived in Tassie when the pubs didn’t have them. The licenses (to print money) were given out for nothing – so they should get no compensation when they’re gone. And, good riddance too. It’s the kids who are given a bottle of soda and chips for their dinner by the parents who can’t resist.
    And, don’t get me started on how the machines are now so manipulated to give the impression that you nearly got the bonus or free games. I remember when you could go out and spend $20 over a couple of hours. I’ve since seen people put their wage through the one machine in an hour.Horrid industry.

    I also remember when Woolies wanted to be able to sell grog in their Tassie supermarkets, and the pubs lobbied strenuously against that. So they bought a lot of the pubs as a result. Evil f*cking company whose only concept of social responsibility is to make profits and screw their employees with low wages and crappy jobs. But, they’re not the only ones, but we let them do it, don’t forget that next time you go past the slaves in the nail salons and so on…

    Ill be happy to scan my own groceries, when they pay me to do so. Until then, its IGA and higher prices for me.

  2. John Richardson

    This is a terrific piece however, anyone interested in more fully understanding the great rort perpetrated against the people of Tasmania, facilitated by its politicians, need only take the time to read James Boyce’s excellent book, “Losing Streak”.
    Boyce makes a very strong case in favour of the Tasmanian government moving to terminate the current cosy arrangements, citing the facts that:
    * there is no ‘sovereign risk’ for the Tasmanian government in giving the exclusive Licence holder, Federal Hotels, five years notice of its intention not to renew the licence;
    * there is really only one big “loser” in terminating the licence & that’s Federal Hotels … all the impacts from the decision represent “upside” for Tasmania;
    * the $200M in annual losses that Tasmanians currently incur through poker machines will be converted to a $200M boost to the Tasmanian economy, to the benefit of local small business & those who currently contribute to that loss. In addition, costs to the state government & welfare organisations in the form of support for those addicted to the machines will return as a saving to the state’s budget.
    The question that has to be asked is “Why wouldn’t the Tasmanian government take this step”, given the net cost to its budget of only $50M per annum … small beer against the other numbers?

  3. John Richardson

    Well said Chris.

  4. paul walter

    Glad to see the SA Greens nailed the phony Xenophon so quickly as the SA state elections looms. In the end, just another politician.

  5. diannaart

    Top article, Dave.

    Anyone remember when you could go to the local have a few beers, chat to actual people and/or listen to a live band? Those were the days, my friend… they didn’t just end… they were deliberately and systemically ended by the big end of town in their quest for total control.

    We do not lose jobs closing unhealthy, detrimental industries – we progress.

    @ Paul Walter

    Had to do a quick google on that opportunistic Xenophon – I do hope the Greens actually manage to keep this bastard honest.

    Hoteliers can go back to their real jobs – serving the public instead of bleeding them dry.

  6. paul walter

    I can’t get past him backstabbing the Guardian newspaper, selling out to Fifield on recent media legislation that effectively gelded that newspaper. His response to the Greens plan here just indicates the depth of his phoniness.

  7. Ricardo29

    Good article and hope Labor win in Tassie, and keep their promise when the big guns come out, as they will. I declined to renew my membership of Carlton when I found out they were the AFL club with the largest number of pokies. I will rejoin when they get rid of these wicked machines.

  8. Chris

    to John R, thanks mate. Too many things in this country to rant about now, sadly.

    Hope Labor wins and carries out its promise, but I’m fearful they’ll be asked to give it up somehow. Forgotten their working class roots have they, easier to divide us all…

    Going back to netflix now

  9. Terry2

    I am told that If Labor did phase out pokies this could impact on their share of GST distribution as it does with WA.
    Is that correct ?

  10. Matters Not

    Terry2 – probably so. States which don’t make the effort to raise revenue are penalised. The moral dimension is not factored in when the Commonwealth Grants Commission does the sums re horizontal fiscal equalisation .

  11. John Richardson

    Hi Michael.
    Sometimes the wheel does turn the other way.
    We’ve just had an entrepreneur renovate the famous Tathra Hotel on the south coast of NSW … no expense spared … the poker machines have gone & in their place we now have live music. Great food & Great service provided by local people.
    The place is packed. Fabulous.

  12. John Richardson

    Terry2. One of the points that James Boyce makes in his book is that the eradication of poker machines will assist other, less pernicious, forms of gambling. But what is really important to understand about the Tasmanian model is that the overwhelmingly bulk of the $200M a year in payer losses actually moves outside Tasmania, while the state government collects around $50M annually in fees & taxes. Foster home grown activity & all that revenue stays in Tasmania.

  13. Annie B

    Wonderful article Dave. Couldn’t agree more. ALL States should get rid of them.

    This insidious industry costs people their wages, their lives, their homes and families in many instances.
    Not to mention the addictive quality of the gaming areas / machines. And they are indeed manipulated ( told to me by a person some years back now, who had worked for a particular gaming machine group ).

    I was an addict – years ago. Until one morning ( it was always at opening time, 7 am, as my inane reasoning had me there to ‘collect’ on the previous evenings losses !!! – dumbest of thinking ).

    Probably the best morning of my life. Walked in, the place was empty except for one person behind the money counter, and one behind the bar. There the pokies all stood, just waiting with all their lights blinking. Rows and rows of black machines – with hungry mouths waiting for the notes to be slid in by soooo many people. I cannot describe what happened, except to say I ‘woke up’. Inanimate objects ruling my life ? Government and business taking my money, by my own decision, purse and hand ?

    NO MORE.

    I turned on my heel, walked out of the place, and have not been anywhere near them again to play, there or anywhere else. I have been to pubs for meals many times since, but have no desire whatsoever to go into the gaming rooms. I have noticed however, that no matter what entrance is used to the restaurant, or where one sits, they are always on view – even just slightly. Beckoning ?

    This does not deserve congratulations, or a ‘well done’. I didn’t write it for any accolades whatsoever … only to share an experience I had which changed my life very much for the better. As for on-line gambling, I believe that the Federal Government tried to stop that on a couple of occasions ( to stop money going off shore and no other reason ) … and apparently that hasn’t worked ( stand to be corrected on that ). And those international casinos would be run on exactly the same basis as those down the road at the corner pub, or RSL Club. My only regret is that I did not keep one of the print-outs they do at the end of each day, left unintentionally I would think, in the tray. Reading one of those alone, is a huge shock.

    Thank you Dave Chadwick for this excellent article.

  14. Jack Russel

    Nothing innocent about pokies … it takes a great deal of widespread corrupt thinking, and doing, for them to exist.

  15. Annie B

    Well said – Jack Russel …

  16. Matters Not

    John Richardson re:

    bulk of the $200M a year in payer losses actually moves outside Tasmania … Foster home grown activity & all that revenue stays in Tasmania.

    Re – all that revenue stays in Tasmania. Not sure about that. State governments like poker machine revenue because it’s theirs and theirs alone. Get rid of the pokies and replace them with live music venues and the like – employ more people, pay more wages and so on – then the PAYE system takes over and directs the tax monies to the FEDS.

    Whether the monies are returned or not, depends on very complicated formulae used by the Grants Commission. Better to have the monies in hand?

  17. Jason Needham

    Ban, kill all Poker Machines

  18. John Richardson

    Sorry, seems I didn’t make my point very well.

    At present poker machine players in Tasmania lose $200M a year, $150M of which leaves the state in the from of income for Federal Hotels, while $50M stays in Tasmania in the form of state taxes.

    My point is that if that $200M is spent on any local activity & not on poker machines, it will to the benefit of Tasmania. Obviously if some of that money winds-up being paid in wages, its recipients will pay income-tax.

    In any event, if the people in Tasmania elected not to spend the $200M in the first place, which I doubt would be the case, then it would all stay there anyway.


  19. Trish Corry

    Ban them. Bring back the bands.

  20. Laughing

    This may work for tassie, but this won’t work for other states.

    Being a pub owner I know that the loss of these machines is a loss of the pub/hotel.

    Long live pokies

  21. etnorb

    Very well written article Dave! Here in SA we have a so-called “politician” (Nick Xenephon) who, when he first decided to make a name for himself, decided to campaign against pokies–he labelled his “show” the “No Pokies Lobby” or something similar. What has happened since then in SA with regard to pokies? Absolutely nothing! In fact, I reckon we probably have more of these effing machines than ever! In WA, pokies are only ” allowed” in the Casino, what is so difficult about applying that “rule” in other states? Oh, I know, the giant “beer barons” who own the vast majority of the hotels etc–in other words, Woolworths etc–would fight tooth & nail to retain all of their bloody poker machines! IF the pubs etc in WA seem to be able to “manage” & continue to trade ok, then why is it deemed “necessary” (?) for ANY hotels etc in other states to “have to have” (?) any poker machines? As for all these “job losses” we keep hearing about, it seems most pubs with poker machines employ only a few persons to look after the pokie rooms, I would imagine a lot of these people would be able to get jobs as barpersons, waiters etc within the hospitality area somewhere, & I do not think there would be a huge pool of unemployed if poker machines were removed from hotels etc.

  22. Chris

    Laughing – yes I’ll bet you are laughing all the way to the effing bank. While your responsible gaming staff look on as the women take turns looking after the kids. See them here in Cairns sitting under a tree across the road every effing day, or in the dining room at my local Catholic Brothers Leagues club, playing their handheld games, waiting for their Mums and Dads. See same kids buying a 60 cent bottle of pop and no name chips for their dinners. That’s the cost of your and the State governments addiction to the money made from the pokies. You see it too, but have no effing empathy.

    If you bought a pub with pokies for multiple millions, then perhaps you might deserve some compensation, but most of you c**** were given the licenses for nothing and deserve nothing when they’re taken away. In the ACT, it started with 6 card machines, but that wasn’t enough and they were given more in the end…

    No end to the publicans’ greed. I don’t give a shit if a few pubs close as a result. Too many of them anyway. If you can’t make it on over priced beer and rotten, deep fried pub fare then too bad.

    The rot set in when the clubs got them (not for profit see, all the community benefits? blah effing blah). And then the pubs got them as they couldn’t compete on the cost of beer. Cry me a effing river.

    The biggest of them around is the Catholic effing church, for Christ’s sake – scum the lot of them, enriching their palaces at the cost of the poor, paying good salaries to the CEOs. As if the churches need any more ways to screw dollars out of people before they die and are foregiven their sins (no matter how heinous) so they can get to effing heaven.

    Never enough for you f*ckers. Or the poker machine makers – Australian companies are the best by the way, best by far at hitting that dopamine switch, best at financing the machines so you don’t have to pay up front, just cut them in on the thousands of dollars people lose every day.

    You deserve to lose everything with insensitive comments like that.

  23. Chris

    Moderators, I’ll try a more refrained response to Laughing above.

    Laughing, if you are a pub owner, you deserve to lose your pub with an insensitive comment like that. You probably got the licenses for nothing and if you paid for them through an overpriced pub, well I don’t give a shit.

    Weren’t happy when the clubs got them were you? Even though you had the TAB, you told everyone you couldn’t compete on the beer, so you paid off the politicians to get them and they relented, a few at first and then more and more. Never enough is it?

    You watch people lose their wages, their benefits every day and don’t care. And most of them are poor and can’t afford to gamble.

    You probably get finance from the best pokie manufacturers in the world – Australian companies are the best at setting of that dopamine switch – and then divvy up the profits between you.

    Your responsible gaming staff watch on as the kids are minded outside in cars. I see them under the tree across from my pub, or at the local Catholic Church run Brothers, sitting in the dining area waiting for Mum and Dad to lose their money.

    I see same kids at my IGA at the checkout in the afternoon, buying 99 cent soda and chips, and I know that’s going to be their only dinner, unless Mum comes home with a windfall and shouts them some pizza.

    I hope you lose your effing pub and your house when they go. C$$t

  24. diannaart

    Well said Chris.

    Having been considering Laughing’s ‘difficult’ situation, maybe he (might be a she, but really?) wanted to pay his staff above award wages and the pokies was the only way to make ends meet. Like leeching off his patrons to pay his people.

    Also pokies are far less work than providing live entertainment or even free streaming of popular films – actually streaming films isn’t all that difficult, but what makes any of us think Laughing is seriously providing a service, FFS?

  25. notsurprisedbystupidity

    A truly commendable article. The quicker all pokies are gone the better our communities (and lives) will be. I have a 34+ yr old son in Qld. who can’t help himself when it comes to pokies. I have fortunately quarantined the majority of a large inheritance he received but not before he flittered away a considerable amount of it. The temptation for some is too much. I live on the big north island and we now have several hotels locally that have no pokies and they are all doing a roaring trade to the extent that on many nights you need to book ahead to get a table for a family dinner – great food and atmosphere. The one that has retained the pokies is in a poor state and the patrons – well the less said the better.

  26. Chris

    thanks diannart. Some people are listening here, one of the few sane places that speaks truth to power. Tell your friends, those that are interested.

    And, sorry for duplicate post everyone, and for the language. Well not really. He/she deserved it. Don’t expect a response from so called Laughing…

    I was on trip recently to Dandenongs – at the pub talking to strangers and I said to this woman, ‘I never thought I’d see the day when you could say ‘c$$t’ in polite company.

    She agreed.

    Lot of angry people in Australia at the present. Immigration choking our three major cities, 20 per cent of the people living in Sydney, Melbourne and Brissie are on visas, most of them working or seeking work.

    And, the response from our business owners is screw the locals, and anyone over 40.

    I went for interview to drive tourists up to the Tablelands to take a 30 minute ride in a balloon for $250 a pop. $25 per hour casual and I couldn’t help but notice (at the depot) about 20 people in this crushed loaded room doing the bookings, invoicing – the admin staff – all asians. I was offered job but declined, given what was expected on a zero hour, no super, no leave contract.

    I was in Woolies the other day, just to get a cold drink, about 9.30am. Plenty of staff, but no one on the cashier, other than one who had a queue of people with trolleys. I thought about making a scene and swallowed my anger and went through the scan your own for the same price place. Hurt me that did.

    Coles too last week, just had a couple of things. So I braved the machine, scanned and popped item on the scale. Then picked it up and put it in a bag. Couldn’t go on, machine says wait for operator. I left and went elsewhere.

    What a disgrace our country has become. Your local member is to blame, although mine who lives up the street got us fibre to the house, so that was good. I’m alright Jack, that’s what we’ve become.

    Just anecdotes I know, but related to pokies as we’ve become a blinkered society, lacking empathy and without any will to say that’s not good enough.

    That’s me for one day. Got a book to finish.

  27. Terry2

    You know, it only takes a minor adjustment to change the odds on a pokey in favour of the punter and governments could easily legislate to do this………….if there was a will !

  28. Trish Corry

    We haven’t had them in QLD that long. We can get used to not having them again. I hope we follow Tasmania.

  29. Mark Needham

    “got us fibre to the house, so that was good. I’m alright Jack,…..”
    Yep, Greed and mediocrity.
    See it all the time.

    Mark Needham

  30. Matters Not

    Queensland saw the introduction of ‘pokies’ in November 1985 with the arrival of Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast – soon followed by a Casino in Townsville. Seven years later they were in pubs and clubs. Before that, free buses ferried punters across the NSW border which saw the rise of Taj Mahals at the Tweed – built with a healthy dose of Queensland dollars. Now there’s more than 25 000 machines in Queensland (or thereabouts.)

    Queensland isn’t going to get rid of poker machines in the foreseeable future because they are a crucial (predictable) revenue stream for the State Budget. While politicians may lament their introduction (Goss in particular called them a scourge and regretted his role in the expanding numbers), unless there is uniform national action little will change because they are now part of the ‘culture’.

    This month, the local CLUB SANDGATE closed its doors (and the adjoining Bowls Club as well.) Forty two (42) people lost their jobs. Certainly many were part-time but they were income producing nevertheless. Yes they had poker machines but they also had live music on Friday and Saturday nights as well as meals, bingo and other forms of recreation. A pity. Now I will have to gamble elsewhere. perhaps the share market

  31. Kronomex

    Here’s one reason (out of thousands) for pokies to be banned in pubs and clubs. A few years ago while having lunch with my mother I watched a man in a RSL in Queensland playing a 1 cent machine at it’s maximum level of $5.00 a push. He must have put about 15 $50 notes through the machine in roughly 15 minutes. Went off to the conveniently placed ATM and took out the maximum daily allowed amount and was down to about three 50’s when the the machine went bing and he racked up about $1,800 in a win. Cut a short story short; he blew the lot and kept going to the nearby bank for more cash. The staff did nothing except to offer him, and any other “winners,” free coffee or soft drinks and crappy sandwiches.

    This particular RSL ALWAYS paid any winnings out in $20 notes, unless asked to do otherwise (which they were loathe to do), and would suggest that maybe that they should go and try their luck again because, you never know, you might win the big jackpot.

    State governments are addicted to the tax and revenue that these machines rake in year in and year out and they aren’t about to let anything get in the way of that. The hotel and clubs lobbies are big donators to political parties (no names or finger pointing) and will fight tooth and nail to stop anyone who dares to interfere with profit.

    I sincerely hope, but I’m not holding my breath, that if Labor gets in here in Tasmania that they follow through with the removal of pokies.

  32. Chris

    To Mark, missing my point bro. Cherry picking from my extensive comments on the issue that we should lobby to take us back to the time when we had to go to the casino (or NSW I know) to play a poker machine, 10 cents at a time….

    You also strawman me – greed and mediocrity, ffs.

    The point was that Entsch (there you go, Ill name the prick – working for Cairns ffs) lived nearby and used his influence to get my suburb a better deal than the other people in Cairns. Sure, I said fine, I’ll take it. But, I know how it happened and the way they do this sickens me.

    Don’t talk to them, put all sitting members at the bottom of the ballot box. Otherwise, you are just voting against your own interests everytime.

    Got any other points to make about what I said? Don’t bother if that’s the extent of your input

  33. Annie B

    A few facts and figures which won’t surprise anyone here I guess.

    Taken from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
    ( Gambling Information Resource Office ).

    2015 > 2016 …. 29,165 licensed gambling machines across Victoria ( Casino, Clubs, Pubs ).

    According to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, in 2015-2016:
    a] – – $2.617 billion was spent on pokies in clubs ($987 million) and hotels ($1,720 million)
    b] – – $961.3 million was collected in taxes the previous year.

    Within a 10 minute drive from my own home, along a major highway – there are 3 separate hotels & 1 Bowls Club offering poker machines to pour money into. Turning right or left from that major road, introduces several more available, and not far to go to get to them.

    They are a real curse.

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