Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Ignorance + Naivety = Bad Direction

Victorian Minister for Gaming, Tony Robinson, has displayed his ignorance and naivety in an undated but letter that has been forwarded to me. The inevitable result is poor direction on the issue of the luring of children into pokie pubs and clubs. Here's what he said:
"It is also essential to recognise that clubs, hotels and the casino offer valuable non-gambling services. Gaming venues provide a variety of social, sporting, tourism and cultural infrastructure, such as sports facilities, live entertainment, dining amenities and meeting spaces. Prohibiting minors altogether from these venues would deny young people and families the opportunity to take advantage of the wealth of community services and facilities available."

Obviously, the Minister has never looked at PokieWatch.org. This is excusable. What is inexcusable is that he has not read his own department's publicly available information disclosed in the Community Benefit Statements published online by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation.

These statements seem intended to publicly disclose what the club is actually doing for the community. Remember clubs get relief from the requirement to pay an 8% levy into the community benefit fund because they are ploughing back their takings into the community.

Anyone can have a look by clicking here, selecting a year and then skimming down the page to find your favourite club and see what they are doing to plough back their pokie takings.

I think you'll find a lot of 'taking' and not much 'ploughing'.

I have already blogged on the Collingwood Football Club's promise to send $1.45 million back to the Caroline Springs community (home of The Club) in 10 years and how far away they are from even coming close after three years.

There's more of this abuse of the Victorian government's subsidy for their pokie operations. Let's confine ourselves to this year's grand finalists.
To put it gently, it is a mis-characterisation to call these expenditures valuable non gambling services or cultural infrastructure.

Free food, free playgrounds and free entertainment is not provided as a community service. These are lures to get families inside and expose them to the real earnings engines of these venues. The earning engines are the pokies and the more they are played by a wider group of people the more money for the club or pub.

Bad Direction
Encouraging exposure of a new generation of children to pokie gambling is plainly bad direction perpetuating the worst aspects of pokie gambling.


Anonymous said...

If EGM gaming was more specifically regulated would you be OK about it?

I agree with you that there are real problems with the community benefit scheme. If the clubs were required to commit (say) one third of their profits to a community trust fund would that be better? The fund could put that money back into the community in different ways.

It seems as though electronic gaming is not going to go away so why not look at redistribution of funds, more direct publicity material, restriction of hours, introduction of smart cards etc?

PokieWatch said...

NZ has the right idea. Everyone applies for a grant. Professional sporting clubs are excluded.
For details see http://www.firstsovereign.co.nz/GrantApply.htm
- or - http://www.eurekatrust.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=42

My four thoughts for better regulation are:

1. keep kids out of pokie places,

2. a pokie room environment which effectively informs the problem gambler when they need help and how to get it rather than an environment then encourages people to come in an stay

3. A sustained media campaign to not play the pokies. Telling people to gamble responsibly won't do it. Billboards on Citylink don't cut it.

4. Effectively fund Gambler's Help services.

All 4 are long term. Pokies are not going away.