For more than a decade, poker machines in hotels and clubs have been the antithesis of Robin Hood – taking from the poor and giving to the rich. The major losers are people in lower socio-economic areas of the metropolitan area and country districts where, coincidentally, the largest number of poker machine hotels and clubs are concentrated. The winners are a select group of multiple-hotel owners – individuals and corporations – and the State Government.
These are strong words, with which it's tempting for me to concur as I don't patronise pokies. However, I'm not in favour of removing all pokies unless it can be proven to me (beyond reasonable doubt) that such a step is necessary to reduce problem gambling. There's also the likelihood that reducing gambling outlets will drive the problem, like others, outside the law and thus create another set of problems and consequent need for resource allocation . I'm old enough to remember the days when SP bookies were common.: they were generally considered to be harmless, but the spotlight in those days was rarely turned upon the consequences of their activities.
Anyway, I'll be interested to see if there's much of a debate on the topic. The winners mentioned in the editorial would be a formidable collective adversary to significant attempt at reform.