Culture

Waleed Aly Accuses Governments Resisting Action On Pokies Addiction Of Being “Addicted To Misery”

"It shouldn't be this easy to make politicians look this bad."

One in six pokie users develop a serious, clinical addiction to the machines — and so far this year, pokie machines around Australia have taken more than $3 billion from problem gamblers. It’s this industry that Waleed Aly took aim at in a powerful, short segment on The Project last night.

With pokie machines tending to be clustered around disadvantaged areas — and designed to make the games as compelling and addictive as possible — the injustice of the industry becomes starkly apparent. As independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie puts it, those most vulnerable “are the victim of a ruthless industry that is quite deliberately targeting [them].”

So far, Australia’s federal governments — both Labor and Liberal — have done little or nothing to help; in 2013, in fact, Bill Shorten supported the Coalition in reversing the measures set up by his own party to limit the pokies’ effects. The new measures palmed off responsibility to Australia’s states and territories, who are set to earn $3 billion from pokies this year — an enormous jackpot that goes some way to explaining why state governments have done nothing to help.

“It shouldn’t be this easy to make politicians look this bad,” Aly says. ” The truth is that governments of every stripe right around the country are leeching off our addiction to feed theirs.”

It’s all the more depressing given The Whitlams were singing about blowing up the pokies back in 2000. Fifteen years later, our addiction to misery is stronger than ever.