A sick statistic

By | 2010/01/17

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting this morning that Australia has the dubious honour of being in the top 10 countries in the world. Not for living conditions, or for happiness of our population, or anything so nice as that.

No, a member of the top 10 countries when it comes to poker machine:person ratio. For every 110 people in Australia, there’s 1 poker machine. With the population around the 21 million mark, that represents a staggering number of the money sucking debt-holes in our country.

This is a sick statistic. Addiction to gambling is a real issue. It’s something I’ve seen first hand amongst family and friends; regardless of whether it’s horse racing, greyhound racing, poker machines or casinos, it’s very easy for people to get sucked into a cycle of self abuse. Only it’s not just about themselves, it’s about others as well.

Australian governments rake in huge amounts of money yearly in taxes on gambling and gaming machine licenses. Unfortunately, this begets a cycle where the governments only take a half-arsed approach to trying to resolve the problem, since they depend on the revenue stream.

The only way to break the cycle is to reverse the statistic and stop seeing gambling as “light hearted fun”.

Somehow though, I don’t see Australia changing any time soon. Gambling is too intrinsically tied up in sports in Australia, which in turn is too much a part of the national ethos.

It’s a sad, sick top 10 for Australia to be a member of, and I’m ashamed of our governments for getting us there.