Sunday, 2 May 2010

What A Mess!

Yesterday, I observed a child deep inside the pokie area at the Chelsea Heights Hotel owned and managed by Woolworths and the pokie king Bruce Mathieson. This symbolises how little the Brumby government has done to foster responsible gambling in order to minimise harm caused by problem gambling.

The Chelsea Heights is a pokie pub that aggressively lures families with children to come inside with offers of free meals, free playgrounds and free entertainment. Both entrances of this pokie pub feed directly into the pokie pub feed children into the pokie room housed under a gaudy cavernous pyramid, Woolies markets this venue as suitable for child parties.
Sure, the child inside the pokie room was asked to leave and did so by walking through the whole of the pokie area. But if the child's parent had not been lured into the venue in the first place, she would have never ended up in the pokie room. How could Woolies allow this to happen?

Look at this mess inside the child play area from this photograph taken yesterday (around 2:40PM):Another child sits near a coin operated machine called "A Winner Every Time". Click here to read more about A Winner Every Time. This child sits next to another coin operated machine called Stacker. While I have written about this machine before, it bears repeating. Here's the manufacturer's own description:
Please click on the image to enlarge it.

Here's what the text says:
“Stacker's concept is simple, players have to stack moving blocks 11 levels high to reach the minor Prize level. Players can then choose to collect a cheap Prize or risk it all and play on for something that's worth about 100 times the price per play - So guess what players will do? This is a brilliant game concept, LAI understands player's emotions and exploits their greed that makes them try and try again.”
Attracting children inside pokie venues, exposing them to games intended to exploit greed and encourage repeat behaviour, and, worst of all, exposing them to the sights and sounds of pokie gambling inside the venue encourages children to gamble.

Where is this government's conscience?

The mess continues as I observe adults gambling inside the Chelsea Heights pokie room losing their money as they experience losses disguised as wins where the machine signals a win yet the gambler has been dealt a net loss.

I listen as a group of women sigh again and again as their pokie shows that had the machine only displayed that last remaining symbol... they would have won. This is the phenomena described as a "near miss".

Instead of staff suggesting that Professor Harrigan (who accompanied me) take a break when serving him a meal while he is gambling at a pokie, staff serve the food suggesting only which side of the machine that the meal should be placed. Here's a photo of a couple eating while pokie gambling, also taken yesterday (around 1:40PM), at Woolworths' associated Carrum Downs pokie pub.Until PokieWatch.org uncovered the practice of people eating in their pokie rooms, Woolworths CEO Michael Luscombe had represented to Woolworths' shareholders that they did not allow people to eat in the pokie areas.

One wonders is they do anything to encourage gamblers to take a break as I also witnessed yesterday a woman playing two machines simultaneously and a man angrily pounding the play button at the Ace's Sporting Club. Click here to read the story in today's The Age about this club failure to report earnings being paid to the disgraced Melbourne Storm rugby league club. This same issue was questioned in June 2008 on PokieWatch.org.

It's a mess.

It is time that this campaign is taken to our elected representatives. Here is the full page advertisement I intend to lodge in the newspapers circulating in the Victorian Minister for Gaming's electorate of Mitcham:My hope is that this will begin action by the Brumby government to do more than just ban children from being inside the pokie room. By also spreading the message to the federal seat of Melbourne, I hope to stimulate the Rudd government to take action as well to remove children from pokie pubs and clubs.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you know the exact time the child was in there, you could report it to the VCGR inspectors and they will go and look at the video camera and if it is true, they can get into trouble.

Anonymous said...

When are you and others going to take responsibility for your own actions. Quite blaming others because of your lack of discipline or self control. The Govt. needs to get out of our lives not put more rules and regulations on our dailiy lives. I can control myself and my children and if you or others can't then have a good look at yourself, it is your problem and your lack of discipline not the governments lack of regulation. Grow up and get a life.

PokieWatch said...

I agree that individuals should be responsible for the consequences of their own actions but so should the governments, pokie pubs and clubs, and pokie manufacturers. They are all profiting from a form of entertainment that causes enormous harm. Safety standards need to be raised in accordance with the recommendations of the John Howard appointed members of the Productivity Commission.

That's all.

As a postscript to this blog, Woolworths recently agreed to remove all Stacker games from their associated venues.