I’m quite shocked that it’s taken me this long to write about Australia and gambling. From my very first holiday here in Australia, I remember seeing a sign and saying…
“What on earth does that mean?”
Image Courtesy of lozzc
Having searched Google images for the above picture, I can tell you that elsewhere around the world, it turns out “pokies” means something completely different. I honestly didn’t know. Moving on….
By contrast, here in Australia, pokies are a most unpleasant blemish on Australian society. Because here, pokies is short for “poker”, or rather poker machines.
In my day, especially having grown up in Southend with its “Golden Mile” of amusement arcades, they were called one armed bandits.
You know, bandits, as in Dick Turpin and “give me all your money!”
What surprised me about those pokies signs from my holiday in Oz from way back when, was they all seem to be displayed with pride outside many of the pubs here. So I thought pokies were some sort of upgrade to the lounge bar. Maybe it had music, dancing, posh armchairs and perhaps a backgammon table or two?
But no, just the one armed bandits.
For me, pubs represent a place to meet people, have a chat and, of course, have a few drinks.
Here, many of them double as gambling dens. Because most pubs, but thankfully not all, have gambling licences allowing for separate pokies rooms full of pokies machines.
It gets worse.
Many pubs also have “Keno”, best described as a never-ending lottery draw. And on top of that, betting offices with TVs showing live racing. You place your bets right next to the same bar you buy your beers from.
- Lots of Alcohol.
- A betting office.
- Continuous lotteries.
- One armed bandits.
How bad a problem is it?
I managed to locate a PDF document issued by the Australian Government all about Australian gambling statistics. On a summary table, it details total gambling turnover in Australia in 2008-09. Here’s the breakdown:
Total spend on gambling in Australia $161,193 Million.
Their figures come from several ways of gambling, they break it down into 18 areas. Three of those areas are TAB, Gaming Machines and Keno. It is these 3 that, generally speaking, are available in pubs, clubs and RSL’s in Australia.
Income from just those three are:
- TAB – $13,383M
- Gaming Machines – $114,118M
- Keno – $973M
- Total – $128,474 million
But don’t panic, that’s income. People do win money back on occasions. That’s what makes them keep gambling, the hope. These figures are the true cost to the gamblers:
Total gambling expenditure in Australia $19,039 Million.
Losses from our three are:
- TAB – $2,216M
- Gaming Machines – $10,468M
- Keno – $260M
- Total – $12,944 million.
That’s still a lot of money for a country with around 20 million people, the vast majority of whom do not gamble.
The taxes raised from these forms of gambling generate more income for the government than car registrations, and the income from them helps to keep many of those pubs and clubs in profit.
Good for them, but obviously gambling and alcohol do not mix. Many lives are being destroyed. Fortunately, most of the toilets in these pubs display posters warning of the dangers of gambling and offering telephone helplines.
Well, that’s all right then!
Gambling in Australia is very much an Australian bad thing.
You can read more about those figures by visiting the government’s webpage about Aussie gambling statistics.
I think I have interpreted the “turnover” and “expenditure” figures correctly, but the explanation didn’t explain anything as far as I can see. If I have made any incorrect assumptions, I apologise and if anyone knows more, please comment below.
But first, go on! Just stick one coin in. You never know your luck……