A coalition of the Salvation Army, the Problem Gambling Foundation and a Maori Health Agency have called for the government to ban poker machines. I’m a libertarian and believe each to their own with life choices but see no inconsistency with that position in saying I totally endorse the Coalition’s call, for reasons I’ll explain.

Betting is an age-old enjoyable activity. Having a flutter on a race-horse or a rugby result adds to the fun. I’m not a bettor but probably at least once a month, resolve an argument about a matter of fact with a belligerent no-hoper in our Wellington office with the unfortunate name of Sam. This culminates with a shouted (by one or other of us) “Right, put $5 on it.”

There’s an enormous pleasure for the winner (me) in receiving those fivers.

I loved it when the TAB extended its activities from boring horse racing to all sports and wish they’d widen their range further, specially to election results. That said I’ve only ever placed a bet with them once. That was on the David Tua – Lennox Lewis fight in which they offered an insane $1.50 on Lewis. This was free money, the generous odds a reflection of Kiwi’s ever-present belief in our insignificant country’s wonderfulness. Tua was never going to beat Lewis. We managed to get $250,000 on in dribs and drabs by going to different TABs, without, we assumed, arousing suspicion.

In fact, much to my annoyance, the TAB took more money on that event than on any other ever, from recollection, about $3million. Then they laid it off, (after clipping the ticket) in Britain. If I’d known that we’d have joyfully accommodated them and kept those millions here but they only announced this after the event.

The various pokie trusts, nice little money-makers for their operatives, point to the distribution to sports clubs and the like to justify continuation. Get one thing clear. That distribution is minuscule compared with their “management” fees, plus the take by the pubs operating the pokies, something I know for a fact.

Sitting in front of a machine mindlessly pulling a lever can hardly be described as fun betting. In fact, it’s a classic addiction, mainly affecting maori women I’m told.

Poker machines are a de facto tax on the brain-dead. As a taxpayer I resent having to support no-hopers when in the case of these addictions, their problems are self-inflicted.

There is no justification for tolerating pokies and a massive case against them. The three coalition partners calling for the ban are at the coal face of dealing with these loser addicts and should be listened to.



Couldn’t agree more.

    markscreaminggoosearmstrong May 25, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    Snap – I couldn’t agree more. And pub pokies are a place where little if any monitoring of problem gambling goes on, yet it’s the most accessible place for addicts with a problem.
    How often do we hear a convicted fraud offender was financing a gambling addiction, often pokies?

ewhitebancorptreasurycom May 25, 2020 at 10:17 am

Bob you are 100% right most of the money is syphoned off …. It all goes back to the time that Drink Driving was decimating pubs ..a bright spark found that chucking pokies in meant a nice return on premises without having to even sell beer .. and stupid politicians were convinced that recycling back to community made it a win win … the amount taxpayers stump up to support problems linked to pokies means we could gold plate all community sports groups and still have money in the tin … they are a plague on our country !

Remember the Tua v Lennox weigh-in photo in the NZ Herald a few days before the fight. Even with his (to quote Lennox Lewis), “silly haircut”, Tua was giving away at least a foot in height. If it was a Joe Frazier with the skill to work his way inside against the disproportionate tale of the tape, and land a left hand bomb, then sure, “styles make fight”. But while Tua, like Frazier had lots of guts, he had little if any of his skill. And Lewis, despite a reputation for sometimes getting too casual as with his first fight with Oliver McCall, wasn’t ever likely to give Tua any charity by going toe-to-toe. And the NZ TAB had them at even odds, reflecting the betting of the NZ public!

Have done unpaid volunteer work for my rugby club that involved putting in applications to pokie trusts for funding. Did so because I figured that as I’m working in a team, there are times when if you insist on your own personal preference then you should get out, or alternatively act as the servant of a group with diverse and differing opinions on ethical matters like pokies gambling, and get on with it. So, yeah, and without qualms then or now I did the paperwork and got rather good at researching and anticipating the bullshit that would secure funding. And would likely do so again if I accepted the role. And at times encountered the nauseating self-promotion and corruption that surrounds pokies trusts. Nonetheless Bob’s analysis is spot on.

You have simply set out why the Government had to bail out an insolvent outfit that administers the TAB. That outfit had become a repository for useless friends of both governments, and their oversight of the TAB was reprehensible. How could the TAB go broke. Sir Robert Jones has just explained it. Banning pokies is against my libertarian attitudes but they really are mind numbing activities. But I have a downer at betting at present. I backed Simon Bridges, heavily at even money last Friday.

    markscreaminggoosearmstrong May 25, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Oh…that’s a big “Bugger!” Tauhei, but good on for admitting you lose every now and then. Most crow when they win but stay very quiet when they don’t so good on ya mate!

Hahaha poor Sam.

Let’s have a look at the arithmetic of pokies. If the bets minus losses came to $4600, Gaming Duty of $920 would go as well as $600 in GST. Note how GST is taken on the gross margin before deduction of betting duty. So the Government straight off gets 33.04% of the gross margin. Then the Department of Internal Affairs has built a huge empire administering pokies and their charges are, of course, extortionate. Add in expensive internet based monitoring systems and closed circuit television technology, the audit costs as all outfits must be audited by a member of Chartered accountants Australia New Zealand and they need to recover their big big professional indemnity insurance premiums. The pokie charities have built big empires that cost a fortune to administer. What comes out the bottom is a few bob for the Netball or rugby club.

Chill out, Bob. Every addiction is really a dependency. People like me who don’t get addicted are lucky. I don’t have destructive tendencies to fight. These people who get so addicted are dealing with a background of severe abuse and neglect in childhood, which imprints on their mind (and no, this is way beyond empty theory psychobabble. It’s been utterly clear for many decades, empirically). So it’s far from completely self-inflicted.

I’m not saying addicts don’t have the force of will – they do – but it’s much more complex than just being “a loser”.

    Andrew , we all have slightly addictive personalities.
    It’s human nature.
    Most bloggers and commentators have an addiction to ” being right “.
    It can be that simple.
    Think about it !
    The best answer I have perceived is from the movie Trainspotting2.
    If you have an addictive personality , get addicted to something positive , good or beneficial !
    I know , easier said than done !

      Yes, we are all substantially neurotic, in truth, due to infantile damage and ‘other’. When people can’t rationally moderate their addictions it’s because they have too much [blocked] pain in their system, so it’s very hard for them.

      Also addictions are often hidden. For example, a person who was never listened to by their parents as a child may develop an ‘addiction’ to listened to as an adult. Yet if they become a schoolteacher to the end of it, you will not see the true compulsive need because they have found a ‘rational’ outlet.

markscreaminggoosearmstrong May 25, 2020 at 8:00 pm

Have a little ice yourself Andy – surely a gambling addiction makes one literally a loser. Sir Robert is a philanthropist and is clearly making sure he is kind. In case he gets arrested.

    All of us are ‘losers’ compared to our potentials. And the truth, on a psychological level, lies not so much in what we do but the reasons why we do it.

    …Oh, I should note say that I when say ‘chill out’ I mean it in a light-hearted spirit.
    Though I do believe the term ‘loser’ is a bit harsh when referring to addicts. I prefer to reserve it for people who deliver unjust pain towards others.

Yes TAB is farming people by milking money from misery.

The problem is the Government mandated schemes around who gets the money and how, which virtually guarantees a pay out of only 88% or so.
Free(r) competition in Vegas has “locals” casinos with payouts of up to 98%, and video poker layouts even higher. A standard black jack table, being play very well, has payout of over 99.5%. All these games would lessen the amount lost by a factor of up to 24 or increase playing time by the same amount.
The natural conclusion of your argument should be a free market in machine gambling and table games, no tax payer funded bailouts for the privately addicted, and private charity to help those that want to reform.

Protecting the stupid from themselves is admiral
But just remember socialist governments love to take from the wise to give to the foolish. Having done that you can hardly complain if the foolish dispose of the money

I never gamble on Sports (even on dead give aways like lewis-tua) Im not a prude at all. I have come to believe that organised gambling first corrupts then destroys the sports that I like to watch or play. Boxing is a great example.

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