'POKIES' in SA

(Investigator 39, 1994 November)



"PUBLIC RESPONSE HAS BEEN FANTASTIC" SAID MR HORNE OF THE HOTEL & HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION AFTER THE INTRODUCTION OF POKER MACHINES IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA IN AUGUST.

Turnover at 38 hotels and clubs operating almost 1,000 machines had averaged $1,080,000 per day for six days.

The State Government takes 4.2%, punters get back about 87% leaving the industry with about 8%.

Adelaide church leaders began to urge that welfare funding be made available for the expected flood of new gambling addict victims.

Said one skeptic: "On average gamblers lose. That’s as certain as taxation and death. It is strange that churches which oppose gambling nevertheless may run raffles."

The "pokies" are not expected to cause serious decrease in Casino attendance. Instead it's anticipated that more South Australians will lose more of their hard-earned cash than before.

The Casino opened in 1985 and has had about 23.5 million visitors. It has 95 gaming tables, 865 poker and video gaming machines and 1,300 employees.

The revenue from 7/1992 to 6/1993 after paying out prize money but excluding operating costs was $100.4 million of which the Government got $19 million.

Gambling addiction is dangerous.

A lawyer…who had been "a prize winning law graduate" lost his fortune of $3 million plus another $3 million swindled from clients. He was courted by Australian and overseas casinos, but his lavish, high-flying lifestyle has been replaced with a 10-year imprisonment.

A Melbourne businessman sought to sue the Adelaide Casino after losing $200,000 which left his life "in tatters."

Gamblers Anonymous has estimated that 10% of people are compulsive gamblers.

Social costs of gambling are estimated at $200 million for South Australia alone.

Unless the gambler has the power of "mind over matter" the odds are against him. Whatever control he can potentially exercise is not over the roulette wheel or poker machine but over himself.

A test for "mind over matter" might be to roll a die 1,000 times and wishing as earnestly as possible for sixes. Chance alone would produce about 150 to 185 sixes. If your excitement and wishing and adrenaline can increase this to about 210 or more then you might have a means to counteract the haphazardness of chance – but get yourself professionally tested first.

Further proof that gamblers are in a no-win situation in the long run is what's happening in Macau (near Hong Kong). Macau is Asia's foremost gambling centre. Are most gamblers there getting rich? No. Nine casinos generate half of Macau’s tax revenue and 1/4 of its gross domestic product!

An ad in Adelaide's Sunday Mail read:

GAMBLERS KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON and LEARN How to Play ROULETTE (Without Losing Your Shirt).
If you don’t know how to play or you don’t have a good system, you could lose $$ hundreds in just a few minutes at the Tables
INVEST…in our INTENSIVE BEGINNER’S CLASS…
 
Read this ad carelessly and you’ll conclude you’re going to learn how to win money at roulette. Read more carefully and it appears you're only going to learn how to lose more slowly. An offer to teach you to win would be contrary to science and contrary to the law.

Anyone wishing to lose less than previously merely has to place smaller bets and/or place fewer bets.

Gambling means easy money for governments, which will get more from you than by taxation alone.

Australia-wide Australians outlay $20 billion on legal and illegal gambling – 5% of the gross domestic product.

A total of 10,000 poker machines, the anticipated saturation point, are to go on line in South Australia. After the first five weeks, average daily turnover was $1.5 million and 650 new jobs were created.

However, some players had already lost their home. Many traders in poker machine areas also report serious decreases in trade. This is attributed to pubs offering cheap counter meals to lure clients who then stay to play the pokies, lose money, and therefore spend less at shops.

Australians have always been great gamblers. In 1851 half of the adults in Victoria deserted jobs and families to join the gold rush. Very few became rich.

State lotteries commenced in 1916. In the 1960s the marbles used to pick lottery winners were used to pick young men for National Service with the prize a chance to die in Vietnam.

When you see the crowds at bingo or the race-tracks or X-Lotto or Club Keno ask yourself: "Can all these people be wrong?" The answer from any book on probability and statistics will be: "Yes."

(M)

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