The folly of being slaves to the pokie lobby

Tim Costello CEO World Vision Australia
Sydney Morning Herald 15 Feb 2012
Like slavery in the time of Wilberforce, there is no politician that likes pokies. Indeed, most politicians on both sides tell me they hate them. But in the next breath they say reform is too hard because we are dependent on pokies. They argue state revenues depend (except in WA) on reaping 40 to 60 per cent of the $12 billion lost by problem gamblers. And as there are only 100,000 Australians addicted to pokies, and it is a matter of personal responsibility, it is not that big a problem anyway.

Each addict affects five to 10 others, meaning up to 1 million Australians are affected, the Productivity Commission found. Leaving that aside, why should even 100,000 people be sacrificed on the pokies altar on the grounds of personal responsibility? We have 100,000 homeless, many of whom made irresponsible choices, yet they enjoy bipartisan policies of intervention. We have 72,000 heroin addicts and treat it as a serious health issue.

There are extraordinary parallels between the arguments that stymied the abolition of slavery and those put forward today to quash poker machine reform.
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