Childcare facilities for gamblers! Is this a joke?

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Earlier in the year, its executive director Anthony Ball fashioned his plea to the Productivity Commission.

“Not-for-profit clubs are well positioned to deliver affordable access to childcare,” he penned with some verve. “The industry’s extensive community networks, sizeable facilities, geographic footprint and capital expenditure programs ensures that clubs can help fill service gaps where demand is most acute.”

There’s just so much wrong here that it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s start with the . . . well, white elephant. I’m struggling to see how a pokie venue can legitimately call itself a “not-for-profit”, but, thankfully, Clubs Australia’s Executive Summary shines some light. 

Apparently it comes down to its many “altruistic purposes”, which include “inter alia” “community services” and the “encouragement of sport” (by this rationale we’ll have McDonald’s wanting to join the non-profit sector next).altruistic purposes

And while I don’t have any overarching issue with the size of their facilities, I can’t say the same about the clubs’ growing “geographical footprint”, ambiguous “capital expenditure programs” and, perhaps especially, their “extensive community networks”. Rather than create a picture of trustworthiness, it merely paints something frighteningly insidious.

Which brings us back to that childcare proposal and its inherent problems.

According to the Salvos, one of many charities entrusted to deal with the emotional, psychological and financial fall-out of gambling, there are around 300,000 problem gamblers in Australia. But for every one problem gambler, many others; in fact, close to two million – family, friends, employers, especially, children – are affected by the  tide of devastation.

Problem gambling is commonly seen as an addiction, on par with alcoholism and drug addiction. Many also simply become lulled by a few wins, but there’s also the social hook. Gambling venues are adept at presenting as a refuge, having ever-attentive staff, and offering music, low-cost drinks and meals.

Yes, all that camaraderie has an ulterior motive. Speaking of which, we need only go back as far as 2011 to get a peek behind the poker face of Mr Anthony Ball. 

The “driving force behind the campaign against Andrew Wilkie’s poker machine reforms”, told The Power Index that he was “fortunate to be in an industry which probably is powerful”. 

“Our ability to talk to people in every part of NSW every day is quite unique, and we can mobilise huge numbers of people,” he said.

Mr Ball learnt long ago “that you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar”, and it’s with the same softly, softly approach that he now wants to get his hands on the $100 million in ClubGrants, funded by – surprise, surprise – poker machine taxes, to build childcare centres within club buildings.

That the clubs are pushing this “a cradle-to-the-grave” engagement shouldn’t only make us wary; it should have us jumping up and down with alarm. It’s not just the children of gamblers who pay the price, but the children themselves who are being lured into gambling, according to Victoria’s Responsible Gambling Foundation, which worryingly found an  increased risk among children as young as 12.

It’s time to call a spade a spade. We need to know that our children are being looked after by those who have their best interests at heart. And no matter you spin it, licensed venues simply don’t fit the bill. They need to back off.  This is one game in which the odds are stacked firmly against them.

Jen Vuk is a Melbourne writer.

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Childcare facilities for gamblers! Is this a joke?
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カテゴリー: Childcare   パーマリンク


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