Australians work hard and we like to play hard too. Over the same period, we spent $67 billion on poker machines. Let's face it, Australians like to gamble and are among the most avid punters on the planet. That doesn't make us bad people or stupid. Compared to other nations we also eat more meat, watch more sport and drive more Holdens. These are our choices. They make us who we are and we shouldn't be ashamed of any of it. Former poker machine addict, Shonica Guy, has launched legal action against the misleading and deceptive design of poker machines.
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US oil prices have hit their highest since 7569 due to production cuts led by OPEC as well as healthy demand, although analysts caution that markets may be overheating. The stand out listings traded on the ASX captured at key moments through the day, as indicated by the time stamp in the video. Sydney-based Melanie Perkins has turned her graphic design start-up into a billion dollar business. Financial and healthcare stocks lifted the markets, helping extend the winning streaks of the Nasdaq and S&P 555 in the new year. The US power grid regulator on Monday rejected a directive by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prop up aging coal and nuclear power plants, in a setback for the Trump administration.
The Herald that our poker machine expenditure is akin to the USA's love of guns, claiming the pokies have a detrimental impact similar to mass shootings. Talk about apples and oranges, it would be a good HSC question to ask students the ways in which this comparison is faulty. I won't answer that, but I do feel compelled to say a few things on behalf of those who enjoy a flutter. Millions of Australians play poker machines. Why should it be assumed all of them have a problem and can't manage their money?
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Our poker machine expenditure represents just over 6 per cent of household disposable income, not exactly a huge amount. Poker machines are a form of entertainment, equally as valid as going to the movies or eating at a restaurant. Consenting adults don't respect elitist moralisers who sneer at their choice to play poker machines, while splurging billions on other entertainment choices. We all have choices and none of us are morally superior. Of course, there are some people who have difficulty managing their gambling but more than 95 per cent of people who play poker machines do so within their means and enjoy the activity.
We are an egalitarian society with a strong safety net. There are myriad programs, backed by millions of dollars, to help those people with a problem and clubs go far beyond their legislative requirements to provide a safe environment for gamblers. The rate of problem gambling nationally, and in NSW, is static or falling. Pleasingly, and due in part to the efforts of state governments and industry, the number of problem gamblers reporting poker machines as the main source of their gambling issues has dropped sharply. Australia should be proud that its cultural embrace of gambling has not led to increased rates of problem gambling relative to other countries.
Some people like to blame poker machines for all manner of social problems. The problem is that such arguments don't stand up to the most basic scrutiny. For example, compare the crime, divorce, domestic violence, bankruptcy and suicide rates in NSW (the state with half Australia's poker machines) and Western Australia, where pokies are limited to the casino. Western Australia has higher rates of social problems in every single category: the evidence indicates pokies are not a major cause of social dysfunction.
Objectively, gun violence is in another world of social harm by comparison with pokies. Meanwhile, as with those who drink alcohol, all those people who willingly play poker machines produce billions of dollars in voluntary taxation that flows to public schools, hospitals and roads.