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Friday, December 09, 2005

Cut Out "Pokie" Cancer

What absolute rubbish the apologist for pokie machines was spouting on the Jim Mora afternoon show on National radio today. He implied that people could not lose much money in the machines because they are programmed to return 90% of turnover in winnings. However, he neglected to point out that if the return from winnings is 90% or 95% or even 99%; if it is any figure under 100% (which it must be if owners of pokie machines are to make any return at all); then if you keep playing the machines long enough you will eventually lose all the money you started with.
Say, after an hour you have $90 left from your original $100 (it usually goes much quicker than this). Then after another hour you lose another 10% and only have $81 left. Then after another hour you lose another 10%, and so on and so on, you will eventually end up with a very small amount of money – in practice you will lose all your money sooner or later. In the scenario outlined here you would have less than $10 after 22 hours. It is an inescapable mathematical truth that your money will continue to diminish at an average rate of minus 10% each cycle of the machine (not each hour as in my hypothesis). You must end up with nothing if you play long enough.
Such is the addictive quality of these machines that many people who can ill-afford to, lose thousands of dollars. In cases I am personally aware of people have lost tens of thousands of dollars over a period of months and years. People have lost their homes, been driven insane by the destructive results of the pokie gambling habit, and I am sure some have committed suicide.
It is the poor suburbs that are particularly targeted, with the pokie bars typically being sited right next to those other predators of the poor, the loan-shark shops. It is time to end the pokie culture once and for all. The machines should be banned. The community can raise all the money it needs for useful social purposes in other ways , including taxation on those who can most afford it.
The salient fact is that the longer you play a pokie machine the more you lose. You cannot win in the long run, you can only lose. And you will always lose all your money it you play for a sufficient period of time. This why these machines are so pernicious. They are open all hours and there is no limit to how much you can lose. Most other forms of gambling have some cut off points, like the closing of the tote or the time of the draw. In that sense they are less liable to be addictive. All gambling is a blight on a civilised society, but pokies are a social cancer. This cancer must be cut out!

1 comment:

cracken said...

As jim loy demonstrated, even if the game was in your favour, ie. average 200% returns, assuming that the machine has an infinite amount of money, and you don't, the chances of you becoming bankrupt as you play indefinitely approach 1.

Obviously this is silly in more ways than one.