The Unreliable Guide to… Gambling
Australia loses more money gambling per person than any other developed country. Yay, we win! But seriously, dropping a lazy hundred on the pokies every weekend is just volunteering to be mugged. I’d rather you spent the money on a few lines or a quickie in the Cross. Pokies are called one-armed bandits for a reason – it’s just fraud pretending to be a game. But if you fancy a flutter anyway, The Unreliable Guide is here to guide you through the heads and tails of Lady Luck…
We have around 20 per cent of the world’s poker machines for 0.3 per cent of its population. The only place in the world with more pokies than NSW is Las Vegas, Nevada. Oh, did I say a lazy hundred? We actually drop 12 billion dollars a year in Australia – 40 per cent of that from gambling addicts who are also losing jobs, families and homes. Victoria’s The Alfred Hospital reports that a fifth of the suicides they deal with are directly linked to the pokies. And it’s easy to get hooked. Modern machines use complex psychological programming to stimulate and reward the brain – glittering lights, music and spinning wheels. The latest pokies offer multi-line games that fool you into thinking you’re ‘on a roll’, so you keep going. The longer you play, the more you lose.
We all do Lotto, right? Every office has a syndicate, and imagining that big win keeps most of us sane. You spend a few dollars and dream of winning – it’s a laugh. But the odds are so astronomically stacked against you ever winning anything that you might as well throw the money in the magic fountain and make a wish to the Leprechaun King. So, here’s an idea: instead of buying a lottery ticket, everyone in the office puts a fiver into a pot each week and by the end of the year you’ll have a huge wedge of cash to spend on a top night out.
When I say ‘casino’, you might think of a James Bond lookalike playing blackjack or roulette. Casinos sell the idea of glamour and celebrity in the VIP lounge, but have you been in one lately? I’ll tell you this for free: you won’t find Daniel Craig and he won’t be winning, because the only winner is always the house. Casinos are carefully designed to keep you playing.Look for a 90° angle next time you’re in one – you won’t find any. They are architecturally designed to curve you gently, passively to the next machine or table. And it will probably be a machine rather than a roulette table. Forget 007 playing baccarat – as much as 85 per cent of casino revenue now comes from housewives, grannies and tourists playing the pokies.
Some well-informed sports punters can massage the odds a little in their favour but, despite Rainman’s example, there’s no reliable system for pokies, casino games or lotteries. If there was, or Lady Luck blessed you with an abnormal winning streak, you’d be banned. Or killed. The house is the only one allowed to win.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests you ignore the flashing lights, the VIP bullshit and remember only one thing: gambling is for losers. And please get behind ProudlyPokiesFree.com in their promotion of pokies-free venues.