Rugby league’s hospital pass on pokie reforms
Like a lot of parents I have spent my fair share of cold and wintry days on the side of a football field.
I’m also a Victorian, so the shape of the football is a bit different, but the rite of passage – staffing the barbeque, cutting the oranges and sharing the thrills and spills – is a common experience for families across the country.
Game to game, season to season, drinking tea out of a thermos and hearing the coach’s gospel recited over the dinner table, the parents and the kids form a bond.
The footy club provides a platform for this bond, for this community. It also teaches our kids some valuable lessons – fair play, working together and backing your team-mates.
So it doesn’t make sense to me that the same clubs that bring us together are arguing for a business model based on profiting from peoples’ misery. No parent I shared those Saturday mornings with would support having another family’s misery pay for their footy team.
I was disappointed to see media reports this week about a campaign from the National Rugby League (NRL) and Clubs Australia on the Government’s proposed gambling reforms.
Our reforms are about playing fair – finding the balance between a friendly flutter and the kind of gambling addiction that divides parents and their kids, or throws away the family budget so there’s no money left to pay sport registration fees or take the kids to the footy.
We’re proposing the introduction of pre-commitment technology to pokie machines – so before you sit down at the machine you nominate how much you’re willing to lose, set a limit you can afford – and then stick to it.
It’s not about the Government controlling peoples’ money – in fact, quite the opposite. You set the limit. You are in control – and for problem gamblers, they can use pre-commitment to help control of their addiction.
One in six people who play the pokies regularly has a serious addiction. Gambling problems affect many people in our community – including the fans, players and patrons of rugby league.
The NRL and Clubs Australia have said this week that they will lose money because of these changes. Clubs that do not rely on profit from the pockets of pokie addicts have nothing to fear.
Football clubs play a valuable role in our community. And responsible gambling is entirely legitimate – it’s also a legitimate source of revenue for clubs. But rugby league should not rely on money from the pockets of problem gamblers to survive.
The NRL has been around for a lot longer than poker machines and I have no doubt it will continue to flourish as it has for the last 100 years.
We don’t want to stand at the sidelines and watch our kids tackle high. And we shouldn’t stand by and let pokie addicts pay for NRL clubs. That’s not fair play.
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