Thought of the Day: …What is the human value in playing POKER MACHINES? – Does it improve the individuals quality of life – does it teach anything positive – how does is assist society other then to strip wealth and create revenue using an alcohol environment? Independent Mr Wilkie holds the balance of Power with the other Independents – would this Legislation be on the agenda if that was not so?
The latest news that NRL Clubs – (National Rugby League) – have joined the call to abandon the proposed POKER MACHINE Legislation was a surprise to many.   Clubs who provide for their Members in many ways – i.e. cheaper meals, lower alcohol prices, entertainment etc … and in doing so have created the illusion that they rely heavily on Poker Machine revenuesto maintain these subsidise’s.These NRL Clubs and all the other Clubs and Pubs– see this Legislation as curbing the Poker Machine revenue stream in a big way.  That in turn has them concerned about being able to continue to subsidise and support their members and League teams as they have done in the past.

It’s easy to see the reasons what they have joined the chorus to abandon this Legislation.

Clubs by their charter operate as a non-profit organisation and profits are returned to Members via improved facilities and cheaper services.  For a several years – the real accountability of Clubs as a group has become clouded and this has seen many Clubs diminish their community activities and sponsorships.  This proposed Legislation creates significant doubts and threats to the way Clubs account for their revenues and expenditures.  They see genuine concerns to their easy Poker Machine revenue and that is at the heart of the resistance to the Legislation.

To all that the question is asked – how did they survive before Poker Machines were introduced?

In a story Nick O’Malley published in the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) in April 2011 and Titled – Clubs hitting the jackpot and keeping most of the booty – the story clearly establishes how Clubs and in particular Leagues Clubs – have diminished their donations back to local communities whilst Poker Machine revenues are ever increasing.  The following was reported in the linked story above:

” … ONLY about 2.7 per cent of the money clubs in NSW take from their poker machines is donated to the community, an analysis of the state’s largest clubs by the Herald has found, while the cost of the industry’s tax concessions is $6.5 billion since 1997.

When tax concessions are taken into account, the figure is far lower.

The survey reveals that 11 clubs took $438,953,965 in total from their poker machines, but returned just $11,678,358 to the community in donations over the last financial or calendar year…”

“… The most recent figures from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing show that NSW clubs took $3,256,000,000 [A$3.256 billion] from poker machines in 2009.

Most clubs analysed spent more on promoting themselves than they did on donations…”

The story goes on to paint a very disturbing picture for Clubs and their dependence on Poker Machine revenues.  The same can be said of State Governments and their reliance upon the same tax revenues – add the Lotteries and other Gambling Tax revenues – and the picture becomes even more illuminated when all the other State Gambling Tax revenues are added – i.e. Horse, Dog and Pacing, Sports betting, Keno etc …

Depression Epidemic:

There is a DEPRESSION epidemic sweeping the WORLD – this is not argued on any level and none more prevalent than in Australia. A very large number of these depression sufferers are facing life changing issues – divorce,  job loss sand financial insecurity are typical of the social interactive type issues that depression eminates from.

As a means of coping – many seek the solitude and mindless activity of sitting alone at their Club venue and punching Poker Machines all day.  This may allow the patron to exist in some mindless manner – but Ckubs and Pubs around Australia are taking advantage of thes epatrons and turn a blind eye to the social backlash that flows to local communites as a result.

Clubs see this and consider the patron ‘fair game’ – they do nothing to try and stop the patron destroying whatever savings they may have built up – or credit card debt that ensures from the activity. This is where the bulk of they revenues come from – not the declared recreational player – but those who have given up on life as they knew it and are now just mindless patrons trying to find a way to numb the hurt and senselessness of life they endure.

The Retiree Patron:

Clubs actively market and seek out patrons to play their POKER MACHINES. They provide courtesy Buses to Retirement Homes – with a promise of cheap meals and a free drink – and just the right measure of enticement to have pensioners visit the Club to play the POKIES –

Dressing it however you like – this recreational activity is damaging society in more ways that it advantages. Call it transference of wealth – from the elderly and retiree group and the defenseless depression addicts – to the CEO’s and Management Executives of Hotels, Clubs and Pubs.

Existing Legislation requiring the display of Gamblers Help lines and other such inane measures give Administrators a pathetic conscious break – but the real cost of POKER MACHINES on society can only be seen in the family home when food for children is forgone – essential medical and health issues are non existent – all because the money/income has been used to feed the Poker Machine addiction.

Social Conscious:

This is where the Social conscious of a Nation needs to be engaged in this debate. Recreational Gambling as the CLUBS and HOTELS want you to believe is the real source of their revenues – is a smokescreen to hide the real misery imposed by these horrible and impersonal machines. Before you even walk up to a machine – Patrons should know that the payout ratios are for the machines they play.

Poker Machine Payout Ratios:

In Australia the minimum payout rate varies from State to State – and also for venue – i.e. Casinos have a higher payout rate than Clubs and Hotels – and on-line Casinos have even higher rates. e.g. QLD Clubs and Hotels minimum payout ratios are set at 85% – where on-line Casinos is around 96% – and Casino’s at around 90%. It can also vary for the types of machines played – i.e. Jackpot machines payout lower rates …

Government Revenues from Gambling:

In a survey done in 2010 and published by the Brumby Dump, a partnership between Crikey and Swinburne University of Technology – the following comments were made:

” … Commenting on the report, anti-gambling advocate Senator Nick Xenophon said the projected rise in revenue showed state governments to be “hopelessly compromised” when dealing with gambling revenue. “State governments can’t be trusted, as they are the number one jackpot junkies.

“The fact that state Government revenue is increasing at all indicates that whatever measures there are to tackle problem gambling, they are not effective.”

Senator Xenophon said that there also had been a recent rise in internet gambling, and said he hoped there would be a Government inquiry into that…”

Further commented …

” … Gambling tax is projected to yield the Victorian Government more than $74 million in extra revenue in 2010-11, up about 4.5% on 2008-09 figures.

The projected figure was given in a state Government report, Inquiry into State Government Taxation and Debt, by the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee. The report was one of more than 200 recently released in State Parliament by the Brumby Government.

Gambling taxes accounted for an estimated 10% of the state’s tax revenue, the report said.

It described the use of gambling taxation for state revenue-raising as “partly problematic” because of the incidence of problem gamblers, for whom price increases — such as those induced by taxation — made no difference to consumption decisions.

The report noted that some sectors in the community had suggested that a high proportion of gambling revenue was obtained from gambling addicts. It had been argued that if a substantial share of government revenue came from gambling taxes, there might not be sufficient incentives for the Government to introduce measures to reduce problem gambling.

Clearly across Australian States – Gambling Revenues are growing – and with that POKER MACHINES represent almost 50% of State Gambling Taxes. The concept that gamblers are in control is a misnomer – advertising and targeted marketing via major sports and other highly public events – i.e. Federal and State Elections – Gambling is seen as being COOL by Marketers and the Government Executives who wait for the tax collections to arrive.

There is no situation that can justify Government inaction on the facts that gambling addiction destroys lives and is a cancer rapidly spreading throughout all levels of society. How Governments have responded in the past has not stopped the continued spiral of gambling induced depression in the 30 odd years that this problem first began to reveal itself.

It can be stated that people are being conditioned by what advertising markets and targets. People are slowly but surely being enticed to pay more for their right to exist within their own society.  Governments can never get enough revenue to entice voters to vote them back into office – the spiral of entrapment in a never ending whirlpool of taxes and fees has made for a life cycle that leads to the final entrapment.

Local, State and Federal Taxes/Fees/Penalaties:

Australia is a society that has one of the highest TAXING structures in the world – for example – before you walk out your door to face a working day – every worker who owns a car, owns a home, and generally partakes in a normal life has to face the following: [links provided to Wikipedia – ATO – and other sources to explain the taxes/fees further.]

In addition to the societal cost above – are the recreational Taxes over and above the GST costs on Alcohol, Tobacco and Gambling – it never really ends – Governments reach into your pocket at every level of life and this is reason to do a stand alone story on why Governments have this endless need to increase tax revenues – but tell the electorate during every campaign that they will give tax breaks as election promises. With this sort of give and take activity – the TAX revenue creep is there and established – exposing it and making Governments accountable for the need to continually increase tax collections is a millennium dilemma.

Perhaps the dependence State Governments have of the GAMBLING revenue stream is reason in itself to support the Poker Machines Legislation.

  1. Warwick
    July 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

    There are many issues in this debate. Applaud the SMH (Nick O Malley) for doing some real fine investigative journalism. “The survey reveals that 11 clubs took $438,953,965 in total from their poker machines…….”

    Clubs have failed in recent times and continue to fail. Many will fail as a direct consequence of the proposed regulatory changes. Name those 11 clubs. Let them openly and publicly defend themselves, under oath. Simple maths, those 11 clubs have taken about $40m each from their communities. About 25% is paid in state government taxes. You can call that an elective tax. You can question self responsibilty. Eyeball has tried to address how the clubs prey upon the weak and vulnerable. I readily accept the concept that poker machines are the urban cane toads of our society

    If we in Australia were to conduct a congressional style investigation (a senate enquiry) of the issue, might we not start to address some simple truth. Make it a white paper or a green paper. Previous Royal Commissions have failed (Moffatt) to address this.

    Often the clubs that have failed had unbelievable property value, that is worth too much to redevelopment. At times it is simply changing demographic. 3 Bowling greens cost $250,000 pa to maintain. Should our Lawn Bowls be funded in other ways?

    If the blow torch is applied to these thieves and liars what might result? Governments will fall. Politicians will be exposed. Registered Clubs Australia is a lobby group. Our lobbyist system is just as wrong.

    As our Prime Minister is wont to say “Bring it on”.

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  10. elly May
    September 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    what you say may well be correct… but isn’t the point that one man is holding this government to ransom?? Wilkie…. Julie has bent over for him … he does NOT have a mandate to do what he wants to do…. bring on an election is all i can say!

  11. Herman
    September 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Where you say “holding this government to ransom” you have little idea of Westminster. In the beginnings of Oliver Cromwell, every vote of parliament was meant to be conscience not party line. It is 2 party politics that has actually caused the aberration. That said, I need to congratulate you and show due respect to you on presenting the other perspective. In a perfect world, is Andrew Wilkie a sinner or saint?

    If that is question 1, then question 2 is lobbyists. What gives anyone the right to interfere with parliamentary process? Gambling is several things in itself. The Registered Clubs Association have unlimited funds to fight this proposed legislation. We saw the same from the Mining Council over a Mining Royalty Tax. Parliament should do what is right by the electorate. When a government is the puppet of a lobby group, then where is the check and balance?

    Elly May has created a wonderful reason to question what is right or wrong. More views will always be appreciated. Has Julia really bent over for Andrew Wilkie or is the Prime Minister only doing what justifies the ends. Clinging on to power. I see Andrew Wilkie being the saviour and forcing us to a double dissolution election. I feel the Greens with 15% of the upper house vote are really the ones who are totally out of touch. The electorate clearly wants to stop the Carbon Tax. What can happen to address this? Has Andrew Wilkie got the strength to put his job on the line?

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