I liked this piece in the Herald by the bloke running the Petersham Bowlo about how they got rid of pokies and grew their customer base by 700%.
It had a striking factoid in it.
“More than $6.5 billion is lost to poker machines yearly in NSW alone.”
Year-by-year, that’s more money than the submarine project will cost over its 50-year life. There’s a lot of sums around like that. The stage 3 tax cuts. Negative gearing. The rest of the superannuation tax breaks. Hundreds of billions a year. Trillions over the decades.
This guy just wanted a friendly bowling club. Clubs NSW made them pay a $20K joining fee for ‘expert advice’. The advice?
“Upgrade our poker machines, which were out of date and not enticing to punters. Then, once we had attracted gamblers with shiny new pokies, we could use the revenue from their poker machine losses to subsidise food and drink. That was it.”
Instead they went with music, community events and good food.
It worked out.
I used to be on the board of my local RSL club - we voted to sell off our pokies (all but 4 of them) and use the money on renovations. Also upgraded the food side of things and subsequently the club still makes good money. There is still the TAB on site, minimal pokies well out of the way, and Club Keno, none of which make much more money than covering the operating costs. Morally, we were happier making revenue on food and drink.
WA is a perfect case study of what's possible without pokies in every pub and club. I work for an organisation with over 300 pubs nationwide (among other things) and our pubs in WA are booming.
I had a meeting with the state manager a few months ago for a project, and he was explaining to me that WA leads the nation in craft beer. What's considered an entry level craft beer in WA is considered "hard craft" in NSW if you want an example of how innovation is stifled.
The pokies lobby it could be argued is as pernicious as the defence lobby.
i hadnt seen (or completely forgot) that Costello quote about gambling being our version of america's gun problem. So true as well. It's like we all know of someone with a gambling problem and the house was lost or the husband/wife had to leave, or worse a life was lost in despair. This is a positive story that leaves a gloomy pall over everything when you think about how far it has to go.
The amount of money is staggering, and the story yesterday about the minister being pushed out by the lobbyists, just shows how rotten things are. I’m fucking sick to death of vested interests and people inserting themselves into a perfectly good system just to skim off an income.
Apparently 'Old Warren' drinks at the Petersham.
I certainly don't support pokies: much rather have pub bands back, thank you very much! Go the Petersham Bowlo! Apart from the music, and the reduction of human misery, it would appear that it would put a big sock in organized crime (money laundering), which can't be a bad thing.
However, prompted by an interesting figure/factoid above, I've just poked the internet and come up with the figure for beer consumption of $20B/yr nationally. If you guess that NSW is about half of that (OK, perhaps a third) you're looking at between 7 to 10B (of which the government gets about half in excise and gst). Which puts it squarely in the same ballpark as the pokies. Just saying. I wanted to get a handle on the scale of the thing.
Totally agree with the rest of the post: subs and stage 3 tax are definitely in the wash, however pointless and stupid either of them are: we have a 1.3-ish trillion dollar per year economy. Yes, you can do better things with those 16B budget items, but they're not the end of the story. Would be nice if some of our mainstream media were numerically literate.
The gambling industry might not meet the legal definition of corruption (as this article states, they have the law stitched up), but it’s certainly morally bankrupt.
I get that gambling has a long and colourful history in Australia, but when governments sell their souls to “industries” like this we all suffer