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.