Tasmania has a population of around 500 000 people. It’s a relatively small place.
Staggeringly, so far in 2010, we have collectively lost over $100 million on poker machines. $100 million. That’s $200 for every single man, woman and child. Something like 120000 of the population are children, so that bumps the per adult loss up to the vicinity of $260 each. There are obviously a lot of families who don’t gamble at all…..so the picture for those who do, and those who are ‘problem’ gamblers with serious addictions just keeps getting worse and worse.
Those stats are the tip of a horror story. It’s nothing less than frightening that as a state we’ve lost $100 million from family budgets to poker machines in just six months. That’s not including losses at gaming tables, betting on horse racing or other sporting or community events.
How many families are on the edge because of gambling addiction? How much crime is gambling related? How many relationships are damaged or destroyed?
I’m declaring myself not to be a wowser. I don’t mind the odd raffle ticket to support a community initiative, or maybe an office Melbourne Cup sweep, but how far do we let our collective addiction to gambling go?
Right now you can bet on anything you like. Julia Gillard for PM? You’ll currently win $1.52 for every $1 you bet. Meanwhile David Wirrpanda is at $26 for a $1 bet to win Dancing with the Stars. Daily news and sports reports will let you know the odds for your football, basketball, cricket or european handball team. Every day. Time after time. Encouraging you to lose your money, your family, your groceries. I can only imagine how much the internet gambling companies pay our commercial news providers to include that information in impartial news bulletins.
We’ve invited gambling into our lounge rooms – not just via the internet, but on the evening news.
If I’m frank, I’m appalled by it.
But the pokies still seem to be the big issue, at least here in Tasmania. Everywhere poker machines are installed, gambling revenue goes up. In lower socio-economic areas the pokie losses are higher that other places.
And the state government? They earn almost $90 000 000 each year from gambling taxes. Think they’ll do much about it? Wanna bet?
What does it say about us as a community? A society?
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be letting my community leaders know that I’m very concerned about the costs of gaming machines and gambling for our families, our communities, our state.