It’s all well and good to have debated the pre-commitment poker machine legislation back and forth for the last two years, but none of it matters unless gambling venues commit to upholding the responsible conduct of gambling code.

On one occasion, the author found a beer glass filled with a gambler's urine

And clubs aren’t doing that. Or not in my experience anyway.

Drug dealers make money from selling drugs. Prostitutes make their money from sex. For three years I earned a living serving people who destroyed their lives and their families with gambling addictions. The only difference with my trade was, it’s socially acceptable.

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  • Movin On says:

    05:10pm | 07/12/12

    @Thirsty - I used to work in a club before there were note accepters, and I’ll tell you, it makes no difference if they have to come up to the counter. There was still plenty of people willing to come in 4 to 5 days a week and change their… Read more »

  • tez says:

    03:57pm | 07/12/12

    Ray I hate pokies can’t stand the bells and smells. Read more »


When you think of a problem gambler, chances are you think of someone in a dank, windowless pub section, engrossed by flashing lights and sinisterly cheerful music.

Someone who goes for the free International Roast and stays for the occasional plink of coins won. Someone a bit pathetic.

Not someone in a fascinating mini-headpiece or a nice suit, right? Somehow the glamour of punting on horses hides the fact that that it, too, fuels problem gambling.

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  • Sundew says:

    06:50pm | 06/11/12

    Almost my exact thoughts, David. However, I’m sure our governments are getting a nice slice of the earnings from gamblers. Read more »

  • HT says:

    06:47pm | 06/11/12

    Get a life and stop watching TV. I’ve never seen this Waterhouse’ mug face and I’m thankful for that. Read more »


Peter Slipper is soon to be painted in an official portrait to commemorate being Speaker of the House. It’ll cost some $30,000.

Picture: Peter Nicholson

Fitting, because Labor engineering Slipper into the Speaker’s chair was hailed as a masterstroke at the beginning. But it cost them a lot.

And it could just cost them more.

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  • Willie says:

    01:59pm | 17/10/12

    How about plain packaging. A drab green box you feed your money into. Or maybe graphic warnings “WINNING IS STATISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE” with some time series data. It shouldn’t be that hard to stop people playing. Read more »

  • Nikki says:

    01:01pm | 17/10/12

    ‘Pokies’ should be a state issue, not a federal one. I resented Wilkie holding the entire nation to ransom with a half-arsed, tunnel-vision policy that could easily be solved by other means. Here in WA our State Govt long ago legislated against pokies being anywhere other than the casino and… Read more »


Andrew Wilkie does not strike you as someone who skips straight to the back page of the newspaper every morning.

Nathan Hindmarsh (left) has managed to cut his pokie habit. The club now needs to punt some of these losers. Pic: Gregg Porteous.

But the anti-pokies campaigner should be very interested in Nathan Hindmarsh’s upcoming autobiography, which contains a stunning admission that the Parramatta Eels skipper blew more than $200,000 on poker machines early in his career.

Hindmarsh apparently wasted several thousand dollars per day at the height of his gambling addiction. Sadly for Parramatta, these investments were no wiser than any of the club’s recent recruitments.

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  • Sam says:

    05:27pm | 21/07/12

    When Hayne is on fire, Parra win. When Hayne plays average, which is most of the time, they lose. They depend on him to carry them over the line, and counting on the talent of one player isn’t enough - particularly a player who goes missing all too often. Read more »

  • Flutz says:

    05:00pm | 21/07/12

    Absolultely agree with you 100% J.  Hayne is one of the reasons Parra has done so poorly the past few years.  He had 1 amazing season in 2009 and hasn’t really put in consistently for the club since and he thinks he is bigger than the club/team. But the only… Read more »


The disheartening story of Adelaide mother Leanne Scott, who was jailed last week for stealing to fund her pokie addiction, shows why we need to take a tougher crack at gaming machines.

Particularly because it demonstrates how pointless it is to expect venues to do any real policing of problem gambling.

Ms Scott, who stole $810,000 from her employers to feed the hungry machines, spoke out in the hopes of warning others about the seductive and destructive lure of pokies. She also laid into her three regular gambling haunts for turning a blind eye to her habit.

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  • peter pan says:

    02:57pm | 25/07/12

    Blow them all up . Man made gun to kill Man made pokies to rob people, made to do one thing TAKE YOUR MONEY. Programmed to rob you , not for entertainment. They are made to take $1000 an hour, now who works for that much money. Get rid of… Read more »

  • Jay says:

    08:14am | 24/07/12

    It is called making a choice.if you elect to break the law then accept responsibility and do not try and blame others for your mistake.There are many who steal who decide to buy luxurious items. Do we ban Myer and David Jones for tempting people? Get serious.Look at the case… Read more »


So, James Packer wants to turn Sydney into Macau and milk wealthy Chinese tourists dry.

Well hello there, Mr Chinese Lion, please come in! Pic: AFP

What we are witnessing is a meticulously planned public relations push, designed to make us all believe that James’ plan is a good one. 

It isn’t.

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  • PaxUs says:

    11:43am | 08/06/12

    Industry?  Good for Australia?  This is about as anti-Ruskin as you can get. Keep up the good work Nick. Read more »

  • Peter says:

    08:59am | 08/06/12

    People and Governments have been trying to ban gambling since Adam and Eve (they took a gamble eat an apple or not) and have not succeeded. At least with Casinos , clubs etc do pay taxes and help there communities, If you wish to ban it then it will go… Read more »


Remember candy cigarettes? They looked like the real deal, but instead of lung cancer they just rotted your teeth. A fitting childhood introduction, really.

Win big!

Those of us old enough to remember know that they were kind of fun, but they were banned, of course, because society woke up to the fact that they were simply Big Tobacco’s way of prepping kids for a future nicotine habit.

We are now seeing online gambling using a similar model for targeting kids – except it’s much, much cleverer.

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  • kj_storm says:

    02:30pm | 31/05/12

    ENOUGH!!!! Enough nitpicking. People who have compulsive gambling problems are going to find a way to gamble whether you regulate it or not. I find poker very relaxing. I play a couple of times a week at clubs around town and then online sometimes as well. I have my limits… Read more »


Andrew Wilkie has okayed a lame version of the government’s pokies legislation, which he yesterday called a “stepping stone to meaningful reform in the future”.

Wilkie has been chasing clowns instead of ringmasters like TAB Sportsbet's Glenn Munsie. Pic: Cameron Richardson

The guts of the deal is that club ATMs will be able to spit out just $250 worth of pokie playmoney per day, and that pre-commitment to an amount you’re willing to lose will be optional rather than mandatory.

The legislation is now toothless on two fronts. Firstly, optional pre-commitment is like offering a drunk the choice of ejecting himself for obnoxiousness. And secondly, the legislation fails to address the burgeoning arena of sports gambling.

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  • Roddy Sexton says:

    11:48pm | 23/05/12

    It wont be long now until Wilkie is back in Tassie poking around in his rug shop. Read more »

  • Shannon says:

    09:33pm | 23/05/12

    Tom Slaughterhouse…..love it, and very appropriate Read more »


I really wanted to write about My Kitchen Rules this week, but it turns out there’s even more distasteful backstabbing, strategy and deluded egomania to be had in federal politics.

That's not a knife…

After 18 months of reassurances that our Foreign Minister is a happy little vegemite in a united ALP team, it now seems clear that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been battling two formidable adversaries: TAbbs and KRudd.

I’ve got to admit, for months I thought the Labor leadership tussle was little more than Canberra commentators feeding off a limp carcass.

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  • Philosopher says:

    10:45am | 27/02/12

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I was sorry to see Julia Gillard fall on Australia Day – it’s strangely unsettling to see an adult stumble, and never more so than when it’s a person of power.

Cartoon: Bill Leak

To my mind, though, a far more significant fall happened earlier in the week.

I understand the pragmatism behind Ms Gillard’s decision to dump her pokies reform deal with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie. She didn’t have the numbers in parliament to get mandatory pre-commitment legislation passed.

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  • Laila says:

    04:47pm | 07/02/12

    ‘President’ Barlow,‘We might not win’You got that part right!If you look calefulry, you outlined almost every reason the ALP/Greens are currently on the nose. Only you want to enforce, in stronger terms, the very cause of the PopOp’s anger with the ALP/Green policy making, and, to emphasise your determined bravado,… Read more »

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It takes a certain sort of rich self-regard to be in as deep a political hole as Labor MP Craig Thomson and yet still deliver your own leader a dud hand in a major newspaper. Perhaps the Member for Dobell has decided to go all-in as a final flutter (insert further tortured gambling metaphor here).

Cartoon: Peter Nicholson

His oped this morning in The Daily Telegraph essentially used praise of the Prime Minister’s dumping of the Wilkie deal on pokies to suggest her initial decision to commit to the plan had “flown in the face of proper policy making.”

Never mind Thomson’s precarious hold on his career is one of the reasons Julia Gillard felt compelled to woo disgruntled Coalition MP Peter Slipper into the Speaker’s Chair. And now that Wilkie has declared the PM dead to him, she’s back in the position of relying on Thomson not to buckle under the pressure of a range of disastrous accusations, thereby forcing a by-election. The situation is more complicated than a game of Mahjong.

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Father Chris Riley, founder of Youth Off The Streets, is under fire for attacking the proposed pokie reforms and siding with Clubs Australia; all while his charities pocket money from clubs. Here’s another perspective from a respected church leader.

About 2 million people will receive a pamphlet with Fr Chris Riley's message on it. Pic: Daily Telegraph

In the race for headlines and hysteria, the poker machine reform debate has fallen through the cracks of serious social progress. In their eagerness to beat back the Government’s agenda on poker machines, pushing their polished and focus tested ‘license to punt’ line, Big Clubs have churned out an astounding $20 million hoping to hit the jackpot.

Through my work with disadvantaged and discriminated Australians, I saw the implementation of poker machine reform as an opportunity to discuss the facts and impacts of problem gambling in Australia. Disappointingly, the lobbyists and ad agencies have had their way once again, turning an issue that destroys lives and families into yet another expensive political sideshow.

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  • Ianc says:

    01:28pm | 16/12/11

    Wonderful Subotic, in 3 or 4 posts you have evolved from an apologetic sociopath into a selfish fool. Read more »

  • shellshocked says:

    11:47am | 13/12/11

    As a person who’s who’s been affected by a pokie addict, there’s no point in telling an addict to get help from all the free agencies that subotic refers to because in their warped minds they dont think they have a problem! They have ‘reasons’ and ‘excuses’ for gambling, in… Read more »


Now our Melbourne Cup flutters are out of the way it is worth investigating how it became valid political logic that the healthy fabric of Australian life would be shredded without big-scale gambling.

One pokie palace so big it wants its own post code

Not on horses, but gambling on pokies. Not by once-a-year punters or leviathan professionals, by low-income earners who can suddenly find their rent has disappeared down the maw of a gaming machine.

The glorified role of pokies is a political creation and it is total rubbish.

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  • Jay says:

    09:34am | 07/11/11

    Let’s get a few facts straight. After 8 years of the disastrous Cain/Kirner Govt it was Labor that introduced the Pokies in Victoria.We had to sell of the State Bank, GIO,electricity, gas and water and slash nursing,police and teachers.Let’s not forget the Brumby Govts brilliant myki card debacle and let’s… Read more »


With the Queen having sprinkled her magic on our nation, and the sniff of the sport of kings in the air, a battle royal is fast brewing over pokies. On one side are Australia’s bunyip aristocracy and elite. Rich, powerful and masterfully connected, they are used to getting their way.

Keep the clubs but look after the people playing the pokies all day. Photo: Noel Kessel

On the other side, the very plebeian will of the majority - the common sense of the common people. This royal battle which would normally be settled behind closed doors is now public and transparent and will be a watershed test for our nation.

With James Packer and his thousands of Crown pokies emerging to join Channel Nine, the NRL, some AFL clubs and state governments - not to mention the $20 million advertising spend from hotels and clubs - the line up is complete. All the vested financial interests are singing from the same song sheet. Their chorus line is ‘this will not work and it is totally up to individual responsibility with some extra counselling thrown in’. Little wonder Tony Abbott chose to align himself with them.

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  • Jakob Gamertsfelder says:

    05:45pm | 12/11/12

    Pokies are evil bloody things, corrupting everyone with easy money. Deceptive whispered lies of easy money to the punters, the owners, the regulators, the taxers.  Packer is just as fooled by the lies as the punters. Bah.  Look around any pokie den, count the happy faces.  Double bah. Read more »

  • Stone age liberal says:

    02:20pm | 02/07/12

    PeterF57, for the same reasons that marketing does not work on everyone. Developing products and strategies to appeal to sub-conscious reactions is a numbers game. Not every-one will react in the same way (we are people) but a certain proportion will react in that way. This is probably not a… Read more »


Christmas is going to be awkward at the Swans’ this year.

The Swans go for a paddle near their local surf club. Pic: John Grainger

And it won’t be an inappropriate gift causing the tension and a possible barney.

It’ll be Labor’s mandatory pre-commitment policy for poker machines.

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  • Jennah says:

    02:24pm | 23/11/11

    Just cause it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not super hlepful. Read more »

  • Cherie Gibbs says:

    01:18pm | 21/10/11

    Well said Ken, in a nutshell. Read more »


It is hard to believe the NRL, a code which galvanises communities in two of the largest states in Australia, could be staring at financial collapse because of the Gillard Government’s gambling reforms.

Me, I like pokies, there's a lot of games around. Photo: Herald Sun

It is hard to believe that the AFL, the national game which enjoys the status of a religion in four states and one territory, is also facing ruin because of the mandatory pre-commitment proposal to make gamblers think about how much they are prepared to wager on poker machines before placing a bet.

It is hard to believe because it is simply unbelievable. It is hard to believe because it is rubbish.

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  • Pat says:

    06:57am | 08/10/11

    Let’s not forget why ‘Pokies’ were first introduced.  It was not some great liberalising social gesture by some of the state governments to the people. It was pure and simple , to GENERATE more tax revenue for state government coffers. I suppose they did not realize the cancerous contagion they… Read more »


The Revesby Workers’ Club in Sydney’s far south-west used to do a lot for charities, pensioners and kids. It doesn’t anymore though, according to an article in the club’s latest quarterly magazine.

Previous NRL campaigns have been against good taste. Pic: Gary Graham

“The poker machine tax is crippling us”, the club’s secretary says in the article. “We can’t afford to help the community anymore. We’re a club and our first duty is to our members – we have to provide amenities for them. It’s a shame we can’t do both.”

Poker machine tax? Does that have anything to do with what NRL commentator Phil Gould was ranting about when the footy was on last Friday? Does it have something to do with that “footy tax” Eddie McGuire has been yapping about? Or whatever those WHO VOTED FOR A LICENCE TO PUNT? coasters at the club are all about? It sure sounds like it. But nope.

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  • Zopo says:

    02:12pm | 29/09/11

    the other week i went to the pub with some mates put in $50. Won about $600 put in another $50 lost it and left. It was just 3 mates innocently playing pokies. Not addicted or anything just enjoyed getting together and having a slap after having dinner at the… Read more »

  • Jade (the other one) says:

    05:55pm | 28/09/11

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It’s not often a Government Minister admits to a fatal flaw in their policy, so I congratulate Jenny Macklin for her honesty.

Who else thinks he'd secretly love to play?

On Tuesday, while attacking clubs and the NRL because they are standing up to Labor’s mandatory pre-commitment policy, a policy that could destroy them, Ms Macklin revealed exactly why it will fail.

She wrote: “…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”.

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  • melle says:

    08:58pm | 07/07/11

    @Fiddler,  Agree completely.  Andrew Wilkie is not a person I would trust. Read more »


Like a lot of parents I have spent my fair share of cold and wintry days on the side of a football field.

Not an entirely natural fit but Steve Mortimer looks convinced. Photo: Pellegrini

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.

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After more than a decade in politics, I have sadly grown used to watching the often bizarre stances taken by other pollies and wondering why they are doing what they are doing.

Hoping for that pokies revenue to keep rolling in.

The response of some members of the Coalition to the poker machine issue is a case in point.

To truly understand the Coalition’s current position on pokies, you need to know it has nothing to do with pokies.

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It’s stating the obvious, but problem gamblers have a problem. They suffer from a horrible addiction – the same as alcoholics and druggies – that causes impulses they cannot resist and consequences that affect all those around them.

The rare Gillard-themed poker machine. Some say the cooked turkey is an analogy for both the government itself and its pokies policy.

Like all addicts, problem gamblers go to extreme lengths to get their fix. For 60 per cent, that involves committing a crime to get the cash to feed their habit.

A report by private corruption investigation group Warfield & Associates found poker machines were the most common way to gamble stolen money. The study found between 2008-10 a whopping $13 million was stolen to play the pokies.

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  • A concerned husband says:

    08:40am | 08/12/11

    No matter what you do, you will not stop an addict unless you take away every opportunity - pokies, racing etc. Once my wife steps into or gets near a hotel with pokies there is no restraining her and any attempt to take her away ends up in a fight.… Read more »

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Yesterday in The Punch, David Penberthy ridiculed the gambling industry’s claims that pokie-reform was un-Australian. But the $20m campaign by Australian Hotels Association and Clubs Australia campaign about the so-called “licence to punt” is more than just shallow and bankrupt politicking – it’s plainly misleading.

Looks like a fake to us! Pic: Justin Lloyd

There is NO proposal to have a licence to punt and those concerned about the damage poker machines do are not calling for a licence to punt.

The pre-commitment scheme currently under consideration applies only to poker machines (not punting more generally) and at its simplest is a basic consumer protection tool which will allow gamblers to pre-set a limit to how much they will spend.

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  • Jay says:

    11:47am | 18/04/11

    There are many people who unfortunately suffer from allergic reactions to meat, peanut butter, bread and whatever else there is. Should we ban all these substances? No. Playing Pokies is a choice. The geeks want to tell you about the reels etc etc good luck to them. At the end… Read more »

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There is a punchy two-word response to claims from the sporting community about the multi-million dollar losses they will sustain if the Federal Government presses ahead with measures to tackle gambling addiction. Sucked in.

Non-stop good times. Photo: Graham Crouch

For sheer intellectual laziness and candid self-interest, documents don’t get much worse than the formal submission by the South Australian National Football League to the parliamentary inquiry on gaming reform.

Summarised, the SANFL argues that the measures to reduce problem gambling will cost the State’s football clubs $7 million a year. The document is framed around inertia in that it argues for the status quo, rejecting all measures such as compelling gamblers to register with clubs before they spend money on poker machines, and to specify how much money they want to spend if they choose to do so.

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Just when you thought that funnelling your hard earned cash into a soulless machine in the darkest reaches of a hotel couldn’t get anymore depressing, it turns out now your kids can watch.

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  • Harquebus says:

    09:19pm | 31/07/10

    I doubt if the morons who are stupid enough to put money into those bandits would bother reading ThePunch. Poker machines should be banned outright. They support very few jobs. Years ago, I overheard a hotelier saying, “Little old ladies love these poker machines and we love the little old… Read more »


My first reaction to James Packer’s claims that casinos contribute positively to the community was, ‘Spoken like a true billionaire’.

James Packer outside Crown Casion yesterday. Photo: Stuart Mccevoy

The comments seemed as removed from reality as James’ fortune allows him to be.

Specifically James told the Crown AGM:” Next time you read an unbalanced story about…casinos and their impact on the community, stop and think about the other side of the story.” And that story as James tells it seems to be a work of fiction.

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  • Luke says:

    10:47pm | 05/06/11

    Of course he should stay out of anything to do with pokies… He makes money out of it! HOW DARE HE? Read more »

  • Martin says:

    06:31pm | 06/01/10

    David Icke would no doubt be convinced the Packers are “Reptilians”, have you seen the on-line Pokie game called “Goanna Gold”, apparently named in honour of the late Kerry Packer? The Crown Casino Pokies are an absolute rip-off! They’re worse than the suburban clubs, you’d be lucky to get back… Read more »


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From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

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Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



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