It’s not like sport existed before pokies

The AFL and NRL are courageously pointing out that sport will cease to exist if poker machine operators are required to give gamblers the ability to limit their losses with pre-commitment limits the gamblers themselves set.

Well, quite. Who doesn’t remember how the invention of sport followed the invention of pokies? Who doesn’t know a footballer who’ll abandon the game the moment that money isn’t coming from the pockets of the poor? Who doesn’t know, deep inside, that the activity of playing physical games of skill and competition will cease the minute that pokies have, shudder, pre-commitment facilities?

A highlight of the 2010 AFL Grand Final

And congratulations on the industry that profiteers on the misery of the poor for having the courage to run the same contradictory argument that the defenders of polluters are running against the carbon price – the “it will be completely ineffective but will simultaneously be devastating” line. They’re claiming the money they’ll lose – money that comes, by definition, from problem gamblers who as a result of the reforms manage to limit their losses – will be enormous; but that it will also make no difference whatsoever to the gamblers. That’s right – money only counts when it’s them losing it, not when problem gamblers do.

It must be difficult for that nation’s media to report such rubbish without actually laughing at it. It’s not possible that they don’t see the obvious contradiction. Which makes their discipline, sitting through press conferences by the pokie lobby without calling them on the absurdity, so impressive.

Hopefully the pokie industry can thank them properly when the time comes to splash huge sums of money on a shamelessly dishonest advertising campaign.

PS: Thank you to the Australian Christian Lobby for having the decency of going much harder on gay marriage than problem gambling. We were worried that you might be more concerned with the thing that actually hurts people.

UPDATE: Um, don’t do a google image search for “pokies”. It’s not what you think.

UPDATE #2: Leigh Sales actually did ask that question on tonight’s 7.30 on ABC. The Clubs Australia guy refused to answer it, and Leigh didn’t push him, but credit where it’s due. It’s a step towards journalism in Australia.

6 responses to “It’s not like sport existed before pokies

  1. I heard on ABC radio a presenter point out that WA sport flourishes even though poker machines are restricted to the casino. The ‘expert’ being interviewed said that experience wasnt applicable to the rest of the country due to different economic conditions. Unfortunately, there was no followup question to ask exactly what’s so different about WA.

    Even worse, there will be no ANZAC Day once mandatory recommitment is introduced (

  2. The hyperbole being thrown around at the moment is really irritating. Even just watching an NRL semi-final the other night and the commentators decided to go on a rant during the game attacking the reforms. Excuse me, Gus Gould, but your job is to commentate the game, not be a mouthpiece for a lobby group.

    Worried that they might start looking at the saturation of betting companies into the broadcasting of the NRL once they’re done with pokies?

  3. What is it with Australian big business and lying through their PR teeth lately? Mining tax, carbon tax, plain packaging, GST on Internet purchases, pokies. It’s become an epidemic. Everything is going to destroy the world/economy as we know it.

    Personally, I never go to pubs – sports clubs or otherwise – unless a company function is held there. Hate the places. They’ve been peddling destruction for a while now – whether it is pokies, alcohol, or TAB betting on the trots. The days of the country pub being the social centre of the area are long gone, and what’s left is not worth keeping.

  4. Yep, many a fine pub has been ruined by the pokies. Now these venues hulk on suburban corners, telling you “Kids eat free” (while their parents lose the housekeeping money) and boast of their opening hours. You can lose your hard-earned right up to seven in the morning!

    The gambling lobby make me sick to my stomach. I caught a bit of Q&A last night and Willimam McInness even trotted out the line of “these clubs do so much for the community.” Oh yeah, they do. Firstly they destroy your friendly local pub, if you had one, then they exploit the problem gamblers in the community and wreck their lives and their familiy’s lives and then they throw a few crumbs back. And ask you to be grateful.

    I can’t recomment too highly Frank Hardy’s great forgotten novel, The Four Legged Lottery. It’s a devastating critique of gambling in Australian life, written by a man who didn’t mind the punt. But who could see how destructive it was.

    Brendan O’Reilly

  5. Ok, trying to do a Jericho here and get to the facts before we start lambasting people left, right and centre.

    Forgetting (for the moment) problem gamblers, random punters and all those on the edge of the bell curve lets look at what, exactly, is required of gaming machines before they are placed in any particular environment. Given that I live in that beautiful northern area that is subject to any number of immigrants (be they from southern states, New Zealand or other boat people) I’m going to go with the rules as they apply to paradise (I’m talking about Queensland BTW).

    According to the font of all knowledge (Wikipedia) the rules in Queensland are …

    In Queensland, gaming machines in pubs and clubs must provide a return rate of 85% while machines located in casinos must provide a return rate of 90%.[20] Most other states have similar provisions.

    Unfortunately the link to reference [20] is now dead – the closest I can come to it is a reference to the ‘<a href=""Gaming Machine Act – 1991‘. This act (580 pages) seems to concentrate on the requirements of venues that have gaming machines (I haven’t had a chance to read all of it but according to the headings it mostly covers the behaviour required of the venue – verifying age of players, maximum amount of cash required to provide to winners, when a venue can invalidate wins, etc).

    What would be interesting to see would be the validation process required for machine vendors. I am in the process of writing a ‘Pokie’ style game (and I can back JS’s assertion of not searching for ‘pokies’ on Google – especially if you have ‘Safe Search’ on ‘Off’. Search for ‘Slots’ might be better).

    Anyway – my simple machine (designed for Android based phones – if a hardware random number generator is available it uses it, otherwise it uses a software random number generator which is classed as ‘cryptographically secure’) is based on a set of five reels with three symbols being visible from each reel after each spin. According to the math there should be an 85% return over reasonable time. Running simulated spins realises a 70% return after 100M or more spins (that is 100,000,000 spins – at 1c/spin that would equal $1,000,000 with a return of $700,000).

    It is very possible that I have miscalculated the probability of various combinations – but let’s be real here. My very simple game does not have ‘Wilds’, it does not have ‘Free Spins’ – all we have is a simple list of symbols (with well known frequency) and a set of combinations that result in a ‘win’.

    To summarise – how are machines validated, are they monitored over time to ensure passing the initial validation is not a fluke? If passing validation is simply a matter of providing the probability of any particular symbol coming up – try and calculate the chances of a win (any win) yourself, it’s not particularly easy. Add to that the fact that most random number generators do not generate numbers that are actually random. This leads to biases and biases can lead to machines that do not match the requirements set by legislation.

  6. Sorry – bad link to the ‘Gaming Machine Act – 1991’ – if you could put the closing \> in the right place it would be appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s