Image for The Pokies Horror ...

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James Boyce’s groundbreaking book ... HERE

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Pic: Promoting Federal ... Image of Paul Lennon from HERE

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Promoting Federal ... Pic: of Steve Old

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*Pic: From ‘Team Mulawa’ here: “Greg Farrell Jr, “Mr. Mulawa”: Greg is by nature very hands-on – activity done translates into learning and understanding – and he still applies this essential quality to the horses with ambitious zeal and earnest dedication. Greg is a natural horseman – his innate affection for and confident ease with horses is readily apparent in his daily interaction with the horses at every level. Although Greg’s primary vocational responsibility has always been Managing Director of Federal Group (the highly successful and widely respected Australian owned family business and the world’s second oldest hotel group), he always finds quality time for the horses. He remains integrally involved with all the handling and training of the Mulawa Arabians, from early breaking through the professional turn out of top level show ring performers in hand. (Pictured with ADVENT) “

First published August 28

I started playing the pokies when they did have a handle you had to pull to start the reels spinning.

I played the true ‘poker’ machines in the pubs before ‘The Pokies’ were allowed in.

I got black hands all the time from the amount of 20c coins I would feed in-streams of money transferring from my pocket to the Licensee.

Sometimes, playing 5card poker against a machine, I would find myself doubling up on the win, sometimes bringing the win up to many hundreds of dollars.

Pure, heady moments caused by the flood of natural chemicals into my system-enticed out by the psychological tricks incorporated into the machine.  If I won I was untoucheable and if I lost - TOUCHED.

Time went on and the machines got trickier and their siren-song could always be heard - even in sleep.

I would fantasise at night about how the dole the next day was my ‘investment’ for a big and overdue win. Not only could I fantasise my way out of debt but into a material, addiction filled lifestyle.

It hardly ever happened though. I only ever had sporadic big wins where for one reason or another I’ve walked out of the pub or club with full pockets.

It was on many occasions that I well might win but in the fervour of play, it would be lost again. Coming back as a total regret, pariah and reminder of a sore spot covering the spirit and character.

Getting the wallet out and starting to rob certain sections of designated hidden money. Rent, other bills, money to feed the other addictions – the priority went out the window.

Every note or coin fed into the machine had with it a,“Surely this MUST be my time to be rewarded.”

Alas, no.

The only thing to do is pretend that whatever happens, THE win would come before the end of the session.

Alas, no.

I sit at the machine and see a hint of free games come up on the reels but no, so close. This makes me angry and I force my will upon the machine with an increased bet so the ‘upcoming’ free games will give me a big win.

It comes and I start hissing at the machine, ” I told you you owed me, ha, you must now pay.”

The free games are filled with false wins and I start to feel desperate, angry and taken in. I look around to see if I can hurt the machine without anybody seeing but what will that achieve?

I hear and see people around me winning and I get resentful and think to myself, “I’ve put more money in than them. Why aren’t I winning?”

Of course, to the so-called trained bar staff it appears that people are just happily enjoying their entertainment. Those staff must know what’s going on and surely have anxieties concerning it all.

I spend the last of my money and walk out without money, cigarettes and a shitload of guilt and resentment.

I curse myself for what i’ve just done and repeatedly berate myself saying, “How can you be so stupid, you fucking idiot. You’ve done it again. How will you pay the rent or buy dog food.

It was at one of those points that I broke and realised - if for no other reason - i must look after my little mate, my dog Bindi.

I started to stop and relapsed. I started to stop again and I relapsed. I started to stop again and then I found another reason to stop. It finally dawned on me that I had been the victim of a repeated sting and that I could use that hatred to keep me stopped.

I did stop and also stopped other forms of gambling.

It occurred to me that it wasn’t only me who had suffered. I walked past venues and saw kids outside eating chips and being thoroughly tired of being there for hours. I saw people walking out of venues and getting the shits because they had lost it all, AGAIN.

There was nothing I could say to transfer my willingness to stop into them. They have no ears until they are ready to hear. There is no responsibility for those who live in a delusion.

They are rescueable and redeemable despite what lies and deceptions they have committed.

I was them but now I am different. I have freedom but what of THEM ... In a way, I AM still them. We all suffer as they do. We are all affected by this money-grabbing exercise.

There is hope and when they are ready they can get the help to reach the same liberation I found.

But what of those who put the machines there knowing they would be taking money away from families and individuals?

It is such a bitter feeling knowing that the very people we put in power are complicit in such a nasty money stealing exercise and we are reliant on them to change things.

Personally, I don’t want to turn the other cheek to the contemptuous, incredulous lies and false promises the parties are throwing at us.

PS: I broke the law many, many times and did a lot of jail because I wanted more money to go back and get that win. The crime is done, the time is done and I am better for having served that time in prison. I am sorry for the people and organisations I’ve hurt in these actions. It wont happen again. But what of the people who knowingly entice people to put their money in these machines. If I encourage someone to do something that causes them to break the law, I am at the very least, morally responsible for my actions. Can we make the Federal Group responsible for the harms that they’ve caused?

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*Stephen Menadue, above, was addicted to the pokies for over 30 years. “I am now free of them. I am driven to help get rid of these things for those who are still under their spell and especially for those who never go near a machine. This should not be a political argument.”

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...

Will the ALP Dance to Lennon and Old’s Pokies Play List?

• Stephen Menadue in Comments: … I personally have harboured a contempt for successive (over many years) State and Federal Governments for appearing to acknowledge the problem of electronic gaming machines. Patronisingly “agreeing” that the problem is real, forming Committees and then allowing the issue to fade away …

• Dr Frank Nicklason in Comments: The proposal by Federal Hotels and the Tasmanian Hospitality Association to allow pubs and clubs to own and and operate their own poker machines from 2023 is sickening, dangerous and counter to what is wanted by about 80% of Tasmanian people …