Chinese whispers: Packer’s porkies on pokies
So, James Packer wants to turn Sydney into Macau and milk wealthy Chinese tourists dry.
What we are witnessing is a meticulously planned public relations push, designed to make us all believe that James’ plan is a good one.
I always get nervous when I hear very rich people justifying their plans by claiming they will create jobs. That was the line Packer lobbed onto Karl Stefanovic during a Sixty Minutes segment a fortnight ago.
But when it comes to job creation, gambling is about the worst industry you could rely on.
In net terms, it’s a job killer, not a job creator.
The SA Centre for Economic Studies in a report prepared for the Tasmanian Treasury say that for every million spent in cafes and restaurants around 20 jobs are created.
But in contrast, for every million lost on pokies just three jobs are created.
If you really want to create a lot of jobs, you shouldn’t be betting on gambling.
Packer also claimed his planned new venture would be ‘tables only.’ He went on to say there would be ‘no slots’ which is American for poker machines.
But things have a habit of changing in Packer’s world and if sometime down the track he needed to change tack to boost profits, who is to say pokies wouldn’t be ploughed into this new venture?
Certainly Packer is not short of Government contacts, having hired former ALP national secretary Karl Bitar. Just recently, he’s also given retired Senator Mark Arbib a prime job at Consolidated Press Holdings.
The destruction caused by gambling in Australia has never been more visible.
Debate over poker machine reform has reminded many of us that behind every statistic is a human story of broken homes, and lives lost. So how does Packer justify an increase in gambling opportunities in this climate?
Quite incredibly, he pretends Australians won’t want to use the services of his new venture. It’s as if there will be bouncers at the door ensuring only wealthy tourists come in.
Rubbish. It’s just an easy, but ultimately meaningless line that is designed to confuse and distract.
You can bet in reality any new venture will attract Australian gamblers and hurt Australian families.
At the end of that Sixty Minutes interview James Packer became slightly defensive about his industry, claiming in fact he was proud to be in the poker machine business. A business where 40 per cent of losses come from problem gamblers, with close to 100,000 Australians with a severe gambling problem, and another 280,000 already showing signs of developing a full blown addiction.
I suspect that Packer’s ‘pride’ would make him fairly unique in his industry in the current climate.
I wonder what Kerry Packer would think of his son’s approach.
Many journalists were in awe of Kerry Packer – with his undying passion for the media, and especially the medium of television.
James Packer has an undying passion too – for making money.
I predict in a few years’ time telling people you make money from pokies will be like telling people you make money from cigarettes.
Sure, it’s not illegal. But it doesn’t seem like the right thing to be doing either.
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