The ever-shrill moral panic complainers about poker machines have been dealt a blow by the release of Victorian government stats showing that spending on pokies has dramatically declined since 2003.
While it is undisputed that there are “problem gamblers” who get “addicted” to pokies (and other forms of gambling), it’s also clear that some pokies campaigners struggle to keep the issue into perspective. The average expenditure on pokies is around $600 a year, per Victorian, down in real terms by 25% over the past decade.
It’s to The Age’s credit they’ve given the declining pokies revenue story a big run, as they have normally been the most consistently shrill ranter about pokies in mainstream media.
Their previous reporting, and the repeated claims of many anti-pokies militants like the Greensparty, have certainly left the impression that pokies revenues are soaring with a rapidly rising share of disposable income going into the machines from an increasingly addicted community. The numbers don’t add up to support these claims, indeed, the converse is true.
And that’s the problem with the most hysterical of scare campaigns, when some of the more outlandish claims (climate change comes to mind) are demonstrated to be false, it undermines the case for those who, like sincere anti-pokies campaigner Paul Bendat, make serious arguments backed by facts and reason.