For many years, churches and a few other community groups have stood resolutely against the excesses of gambling, in the hope of easing or curtailing the damage done to children, families and communities when what is often called “a bit of fun” turns into an uncontrollable addiction.
For their efforts, the activists were called “wowsers” and “killjoys,” but they were convinced that justice and righteousness was on their side. The advent of poker machines, which turned virtual robbery into an extremely lucrative art form, made the calls for gambling reform all the more urgent.
And yet governments and businesses continue to turn a deaf ear to the problem, or offer band-aid solutions, appointing key activists to manage community benefit funds and employing political staffers to industry jobs, and raking in ever higher returns for state revenue, or for profit.
The most pitiful and destructive pokies addiction of all is the addiction of our state governments to poker machine revenue. The time has come for the federal government to take decisive action and offer moral leadership on pokies reform.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 1 May 2011.