Pokies: 'addictive like cocaine'

Poker machines are designed to be as ‘addictive as cocaine’, say lawyers.

Pokies: 'addictive like cocaine'

Lawyers are preparing legal action against casinos and poker machine designers, saying that pokies are designed to be addictive and may be illegal.

According to lawyers from the Maurice Blackburn firm, poker machines are designed to be as ‘addictive as cocaine’, and machines that disguise wins as losses or ‘near misses’ engage in deceptive behaviour that could be in breach of the law.

"There's no accident that people are getting addicted to machines, they're designed to make people addicted," said lawyer Jacob Varghese, speaking at the launch of the National Gambling Action Alliance. "To the extent that it's misleading and deceptive, it's against the law."

Mr Varghese informed reporters yesterday that lawyers will be preparing legal action over the next couple of months, with the focus on possible breaches of common law, Australian Consumer Law, and other infringements.

"I think the entire industry is involved in an elaborate confidence trick and we're determined to prove that it's not lawful," he said.

But Gaming Technologies Australia chief executive Ross Ferrar hit back at the allegations, saying that the idea of machines being designed to be addictive is "nonsense".

"That's like saying that a car is designed to run out of petrol, or a car is designed to exceed the speed limit – it's just not true," said Mr Ferrar.

Mr Ferrar also claims that Australia has the slowest poker machines in the world and allow for some of the world's lowest maximum bets.

Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello had some harsh words to say about pokies, comparing them to crystal meth in the effect that they have on the community.

Monash University researcher Charles Livingstone said there’s research that shows that poker machines are designed to stimulate the release of dopamine – the brain’s ‘feel good’ chemical.

"Which is exactly the same mechanism used in something like cocaine addiction," said Mr Livingstone.

Senator Nick Xenophon, himself a staunch anti-poker machine campaigner, welcomes the planned court action, saying it is "terrific news", but fully expects the poker machine industry to dig in and battle against it.

According to statistics from the Gaming Technologies Association Australia and Nick Xenophon, there are 7.6 million poker machines worldwide, and around 200,000 of those in Australia. That’s 2.5 per cent of the world total. Australians lose around $19 billion a year on pokies, with $4 billion of that total going into State Government coffers. It is estimated that one in six people who regularly play pokies are addicted.

Read more at www.sbs.com.au

Read more at www.nickxenophon.com.au

Or watch the ABC’s documentary Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation

Do you think pokies are addictive? Do you welcome these proceedings? What suggestions would you have for gambling addicts? Do you think the Government will back the actions of the National Gambling Action Alliance? Or do you feel that it would rather continue receive the money derived from pokies than address the social cost?





    COMMENTS

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    MILA
    23rd Oct 2015
    10:00am
    In Australia there is no problem control on then odds as it is done in the U.S.A. -
    Yes, machines are very appealing and mesmerizing : each person has to control how much is prepared to play and also loose. Hoewever, the fact that billions are made in this "indutry" reveals hat machines are great business : somehow there is a similarity with Banks. Making pokkies illegal is not the solution. Food for thought.
    MICK
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:10pm
    You miss the point: ADDICTS HAVE NO CONTROL. That's why they are addicts.
    You may recall that Independent Andrew Wilkie tried to get legislation through the last parliament to put a (very minor) safeguards in place so that addicts could not gamble too much at any one time. The Clubs and Pubs killed that and BOTH sides of politics obeyed their election donating supporter. Is this corruption? Methinks so. So why is the media not going after this industry?
    As much as I do not like ambulance chasing lawyers I hope they go after this industry for all that it is worth. Go get 'em.
    Adrianus
    23rd Oct 2015
    10:16pm
    Now we find those negotiations between Wilkie and Gillard meant nothing because Labor was receiving money from the industry. They just cant make up their mind if it was a cheque or paper bag full of cash. mick you have your finger on the pulse there. Which was it? They are your labor mates mick.
    mangomick
    23rd Oct 2015
    10:37pm
    Bit hypocritical there Frank. if you go through http://www.abc.net.au/news/interactives/tables/aec-political-donations-table/ you will find that the Liberal/Nationals did just as good as Labor in the way of donations from pubs and clubs.
    As far as total donations from other sources go the Australian Electoral Commission figures for the declared donations given to political parties in the 2012-13 financial year, shows the Liberal Party receiving four times more donations than the ALP.
    mangomick
    23rd Oct 2015
    10:15am
    Interesting report on the ABC.Now we have lawyers coming out of the woodwork to get their hit of stimulus much like the rats and the poker machine players. We have so many crusaders who are willing to help the weak minded or is it to help themselves?. It would probably make for a stronger Gene pool if we let nature take it's place and let them get their hit of stimulus and then starve to death as they enter into oblivion, much like the rats in the experiment. Many people will tell you it's their right to spend their money as they wish,(which is right if it's money they have earned themselves) but quite often it is those same people feeding the machines who are the ones whinging when their social security/pension money is about to be cut because they can't make ends meet. The Federal Government giveth and the State government and Hoteliers taketh away.
    Wstaton
    23rd Oct 2015
    11:22am
    I understand that the lawyers are doing this Pro-Bono.

    I am not sure who they would represent and who would pay if they were. Certainly not the pokie players as they need their money to put into the pokies.

    If they did represent pokie players in a class action and won. What would they do with the money. Put it back into the pokies I suspect.
    MICK
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:14pm
    Come on mango. What is important is that (some) people are not allowed to ruin their own lives and those of their families. Have a think about how many people there are on the streets whose lives have been torn apart by their own weaknesses and the attack of alcohol, gambling and drug industries.
    I've got to say I stand firmly for PROTECTIONS, not a blanket ban. Responsible people should be left alone but disaster areas on 2 legs should be helped before they destroy their own lives and that of the ones they love around them.....and then are on social security to keep and hospitals to fix.
    Fran
    23rd Oct 2015
    10:46am
    Why blame the machines or drug, some people have addictive personalities, and no self control.
    When I go to my local RSL for a meal (fabulous food) and I get a night off! I sometimes have a "flutter" never play with more than $5, and nearly every time, I put back in my purse most of that when I am finished (they probably see me coming, and say here comes that tight-wad, it amazes me the time some people spend at the pokies, and its not unusual to see $50 notes go in.
    I enjoy myself and shall not stop.
    Wstaton
    23rd Oct 2015
    11:15am
    I guess we can say the same for kid's obesity where manufacturers load goodies up with sugar and false packaging.

    I wouldn't be surprised if these pokies don't use subliminal messaging in their music or noises they make.

    Some of these people may be lost souls but for a industry to take advantage of them is despicable.

    Just like the industries are taking advantage of childrens love for sweet things.
    MICK
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:16pm
    Are you kidding Dizzy? Society can do better than allowing scumbag industries and their low life operators to make a living off the misery and destruction of lives. This is not who we are.....or at least I had thought so. Maybe I am wrong about Australians?
    mangomick
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:34pm
    Have you had a look at the " Ka-ching ! ....Pokie Nation" documentary. It goes into how the release into the brain of dopamine stimulates pleasure and how rats and birds are programmed into hitting the little switch so that they can access rewards. The rewards are much like a small pokie payout for a pokie player.. The rats who were hitting the switch and getting a pleasure hit via an implant into the pleasure area of the brain would actually starve themselves because they were so intent on only getting their pleasure hit and would forgo food and drink.
    MICK
    23rd Oct 2015
    1:18pm
    My wife it and briefed me. Not surprised as this is how addictions work.
    mogo51
    23rd Oct 2015
    11:25am
    I have been a Poker Machine player over my life and am certain they are addictive. I am away from them now and pleased they are not in my face all the time. I think they cause great distress to a lot of people and their families.
    Would love to see the end of them but it won;t happen as they are too powerful, just like
    politicians salary/superannuation rorts.
    MILA
    23rd Oct 2015
    11:33am
    hI mogo 51
    many things can be addictive.......from coffee to a healthy lifestyle. When we become "addicted" alias depending on the stimulus, pleasure, etc.......it is a CHOICE. Gambling has been called an "occupational therapy" (! ) - and, whether we accept it or not Australians love gambling and, not much difference to other cultures - By the way, what should be banned are the on-line gambling for many evident reasons.
    Finally, many kids' games are a copy or.....resemble a lot to pokkie machines: parents buy them & plenty ads on TV: say not more. Cheers!
    MICK
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:17pm
    And stupidity Mila. Think 3 times, speak once!
    Nan Norma
    23rd Oct 2015
    1:47pm
    MILA. Yes, there are many things you can become addictive to. Take coffee. But drink enough and you'll become sick and have to stop. Same thing with drugs and most other things. But gambling doesn't make you ill. And there will always be money available from somewhere, plus it's legal. I have seen good people ruined by poker machines. Worst part is they are set up in clubs that were originally for people to socialize. Now they are often a place where lonely people go to pass the time on poker machine. These machine ARE fun. They are fasinating. They also can bleed you dry.
    Sundays
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:14pm
    Nck Xenophon makes a lot of sense. No problem with people Gambling responsibly and having a flutter. However, practical reforms are needed. Too many children suffering due to their parents addiction.
    MICK
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:19pm
    If we had a parliament full of INDEPENDENTS like Nick then we would have accountable and proper government. Unfortunately the population is either too stupid to see what the major parties are doing or have been conned by slick political advertising and keep putting the same bastards in. You get what you deserve methinks!
    mangomick
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:39pm
    Now you are talking mick. Unless of course we end up with a parliament full of Jacqui Lambies.
    MICK
    23rd Oct 2015
    1:17pm
    Don't be fooled mango. If you listen to Lambie she might come across like a dumb blond but if you listen carefully you will see there is more there than you give her credit for. Whilst you may be amused Lambi may actually be smarter than Abbott........but how long is a piece of string.
    What we need is people in the parliament who are not puppets for the wealthy pulling the strings and getting what they want: our money. A friend of mine once said "it matters not who you elect. Can be Billy the Blacksmith, because these people have the best advice in the country". In most cases that would be a good assessment.
    As I keep saying mango voting in one side and then the other is the exact reason why nothing ever changes. The bastards know they 'control' the debate and that the public will continue to vote for them. That is why are treated as mugs: your turn, my tirn, then your turn again..... We can do better mate!
    mangomick
    23rd Oct 2015
    5:33pm
    Jackie Lambie is just Tasmanias version of Pauline Hansen. Only difference being that she hasn't been on Dancing with the Stars yet. They spruik "populous redneck opinion" to appease and stir up a certain minority but lack real substance when it comes to policy. But a few more Tony Windsors (I'll get an ear full now from the Abbott fans) and Nick Xenophon's wouldn't be a bad thing.
    KSS
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:21pm
    So on the one hand there is a campaign asserting that poker machines are as addictive as cocaine and wants them declared illegal presumably to ban or at least restrict their use. Whilst on the other, there is a campaign to make cocaine (and other drugs of addiction) legal and freely available removing the current ban and restricted use.

    It's enough to drive you to drink!
    Anonymous
    23rd Oct 2015
    4:28pm
    I like a good drink too. KSS you talked me into it
    Nan Norma
    23rd Oct 2015
    12:51pm
    I have to agree poker machines are addictive to certain personalities or metal conditions. I go to the pokies with my husband and whereas I can say finish, he can't. My concern now is that if i pass away before he does, my money, (Inheritance) will go to the pokies.
    Star Trekker
    23rd Oct 2015
    1:18pm
    Nan
    Have a will that your money is invested and he can only access the interest. Mine is set up this way when my hubby was also addicted to pokies.
    GiGi
    23rd Oct 2015
    1:50pm
    And from which part of Nazidom did you float in, Mangomick? To edify us with your wisdom. Weak-minded indeed!! I suppose you think gays, single mothers, and the homeless also fall into this category? You should do some personal gardening, Mango: cultivate the faculty of empathy.
    Kactus
    23rd Oct 2015
    2:20pm
    I rarely play the pokies or Keno - too many little black domes and doubts about the security of the software for these games.
    john
    23rd Oct 2015
    3:31pm
    the only people who will benefit from lawsuit are the lawyers . they would no suggest it otherwise.
    niemakawa
    23rd Oct 2015
    4:25pm
    Who asked the lawyers to do this.? Why are they doing this? For what or whom? Who will be paying your exorbitant bills?
    Young
    23rd Oct 2015
    5:21pm
    No one is compelled to play the pokies.No one is compelled to smoke or take drugs.Why should those who look after themselves have to pay for those who make the wrong decisions.
    My mother is in her nineties and loves the clubs where she can meet people and have a flutter.She also loves Bingo.
    As I said,you are not compelled to play the pokies.It is up to you and if you get hooked then do something about it.I gave up cigarettes because I knew how bad they were.Be strong.
    niemakawa
    23rd Oct 2015
    5:46pm
    Yes I agree. People must take responsibility for their own choices and actions. Of course that is too simple for some to comprehend and in all their wisdom they want to "spoil" the fun of the majority to "save" a few. I wish they would introduce pokies in the pubs in WA, too far to go to The casino. Spending a few dollars, which most do, on pokies is not (yet) a crime.
    Bonny
    25th Oct 2015
    7:26am
    I've noticed that supermarket incentive schemes work just like the pokies too.
    Fran
    25th Oct 2015
    5:59pm
    Why oh Why do all of these "discussions" we have, turn some of you into "Pollie hating nasties"
    why do politicians have to hold our hands, cannot we make up our own mind???
    PIXAPD
    26th Oct 2015
    7:00am
    So the old adage says.. 'a fool and his money are soon parted. Even the most simple minded person understands that you cannot beat the machines. Sure they are programmed to pay out and now and then, but folks are that DENSE they keep putting their money on. They that would be rich fall into a snare....
    niemakawa
    26th Oct 2015
    4:52pm
    I agree. Self control and common sense that's all that is needed. Just That The Government love to get involved in every aspect of our daily lives. Don't anyone tell me Australia is a democracy it is far from it.
    Grey Voter
    23rd Feb 2018
    1:06pm
    There is so much talk about domestic violence which is commonly understood as a man beating his wife, no? Like me, two married men I know suffer in silence because their wives are addicted to poker machines. One of them was driven to the brink and attempted suicide some years ago. He now is on tranquilisers to help him cope because he hasn't got the guts to leave the family. IS THAT NOT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? In the meantime his wife keeps wasting thousands of dollars leaving him to do without many things inb order to keep making ends meet. A friend of mine who is an experienced psychologist, told me she never plays pokies on principle because she witnesses first hand the misery and havoc gamblers can cause in their families. BUT....Pokies provide revenue to our selfish often corrupt politicians to enable them to look good and to receive blood money when election time comes and they fight for their personal survival. IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT FROM USA POLITICIANS RELUCTANT TO UPSET THE GUN LOBBY IN CASE THEY STOP GIVING THEM BLOOD MONEY. Bring on the election so we can vote these suckers out......not sure there is an alternative. If Bill Shorten comes out with a serious promise to curb the untold damage pokies are responsible for, I will vote Labour for the first time in my life. I know many like me
    froggy
    25th Feb 2018
    4:31pm
    All gambling is addictive..self control and common sense are words of idiots living in upmarket suburbs...money my friend and lots of it is the reason for pokies in the poorest suburbs..they take away with false promises from the poorest and give nix in return..governments make money out of them....the club barons won't listen as it's legal... if only pokies were in the casinos and not the suburbs...at the voting booths of Australia is the way to show pokies the door..


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