Australia’s Greens Party is on a mission. The left-wing political party is once again renewing its fight to ban gambling machines in Australia, predicting they will soon become relics in bars and other establishments.
As far as controversial topics go, electronic gaming machines (EGM), also known as pokies in Australia, take top billing. Around the world, in many jurisdictions, their place in society is a constant source of debate. However, nowhere is it as prevalent as it is in Australia.
Pokies are a huge source of entertainment and revenue, and have been for years. However, Australia’s Greens Party division in New South Wales (NSW) believes the country can do without an economic segment that generates over AU$3.1 billion (US$2.21 billion) a year. The left-wing political party has a plan that would phase them out of bars over five years.
No More Pokies
NSW Greens has spent the past several years trying to get rid of pokies in the Australian state. It argues that NSW “loses more money per person to gambling” than any other location in the world because of the amount of EGMs it has.
As a result, the party’s eight-step plan to remove pokies from the state is getting new life. It formulated a transition package it says is worth AU$7 billion (US$5 billion) to phase out pokies in bars over five years.
It would also lead to the eradication of pokies in other venues within 10 years. The package would provide some financial support to those businesses to offset some of the revenue losses.
In addition, the party wants a complete ban on gambling advertising on public transport, as well as at sporting events. It voices its concerns over an increase in problem gambling that, according to a study by Gambling Research Australia, doubled from 2010 to 2019. However, the problem gambling group still only made up around 1.23% of the population.
Support from an American Ally
NSW Greens found an ally for its cause halfway around the globe. An American journalist with the Washington Post picked up a cushy assignment down under recently. Leaving the US bubble, Michael Miller was “shocked” at the number of pokies he found in Australia.
He was so surprised that he decided to write a piece for the Post about his experience. In it, he used examples of gambling addiction that, according to him, could only occur because of the pokies – even though the same examples are found everywhere else there is gambling.
Miller’s article, which points out that “Australia is home to less than half a percent of the world’s population but has 20 percent of its pokies,” is going to give NSW Greens’ initiative new legs. Despite being nothing more than a form of entertainment for the 98.8% of the population without a gambling problem, the party will revive its anti-pokie initiative.
It may not get far, though. Attempts to ban EGMs have been around for over six years and never get far. Whether it’s because cooler heads prevail or the revenue is too great to ignore, something always causes the discussion of banning pokies to lose steam.
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