Letters / Pokies ‘inefficient’ in helping the community

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“It is incorrect to claim that ‘problem gamblers bet on anything’. Poker machine addicts’ compulsive gambling relates to the psychological manipulation of poker machines,” says letter writer KARINA MORRIS, of Weetangera.

BILL Stefaniak’s shallow defence of ACT licensed clubs’ reliance on poker-machine revenue (“‘Zealous’ Greens threaten future of clubs”, CN, November 26) displays just about every economic fallacy in the book.

Given the well-documented harms that gambling causes, it is simply not enough to claim that clubs use their poker machine revenue to support local sporting and other community groups and charities. 

It is problem gamblers who suffer the most significant losses – with these losses taking the form of the “considerable sums of money” that Stefaniak refers to as being directed to the community. 

It has also been shown that the amounts of revenue that clubs contribute to community causes are smaller than most people imagine, and the ACT auditor-general’s 2018 review of ACT Clubs’ Community Contributions raised important questions about the value and benefit of some of these contributions.

As for different forms of gambling, I’ve got news for Mr Stefaniak: it is incorrect to claim that “problem gamblers bet on anything”. Poker machine addicts’ compulsive gambling relates to the psychological manipulation of poker machines and the feelings that these produce, which are not replicated by other forms of gambling.

Researchers have concluded that poker machines, which cause an estimated 80 per cent of gambling-related harm in Australia, provide an extremely inefficient and costly way of funding community sporting and charitable activities. 

The actual level of community support provided by poker machines is minuscule compared to the amount of money lost by poker machine users within local communities. Local sporting and community groups exist and thrive in any number of places around the world without relying on gambling revenue. Canberra can be one of those places.

Karina Morris, Weetangera

Libs need to wake up on euthanasia 

The useful end-of-life planning feature in CN (November 26) was a timely reminder about the need for the federal government to overturn once and for all Kevin Andrews’ retrograde legislation that still prevents over half a million residents in the ACT and NT, and their governments, from considering and enacting legal support mechanisms to underpin voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying. 

Many, particularly in the cohort of older voters, wish to plan and have control over when and how they die. The ACT Liberals now have a chance in the next 12 months to shift significantly their ultra-conservative, out-of-date thinking and go into bat for Canberrans who want real and uncomplicated choices in their end-of-life personal decision making. 

After all, the Liberal Party of Australia professes to believe “in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples… government that minimises interference in our daily lives… in a just and humane society” and “in individual freedom”. 

Both the Liberals in the current federal coalition and the ACT Legislative Assembly need to prove that, as our representatives, they are willing to live and work according to their party’s national, foundational platform. 

Sue Dyer, Downer 


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