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Among the myriad of post-election policies being drip fed to the community is, I understand, a ‘Free Choice Gaming Program’ to be trialled at the RHH.

The proposal to place Poker Machines in the waiting area of the Emergency Department is aimed at resolving many of the critical issues in the hospital including patients being gainfully occupied while waiting hours for treatment and Treasury benefiting from a never-ending revenue stream.

These are not everyday bells and whistles pokies but purpose built for a hospital environment known as MedPokies (MPs) and have been used extensively in Utah and Bolivia with positive outcomes. 

Each machine is fitted with an array of health focussed computer technology leaving patients attached to their I.V., monitoring blood pressure, heart rate and fluid retention while continuing to enjoy the thrill of gaming.

There have been consultation with stakeholders of course including a cohort of gambling addicts, the Glenorchy RSL and most importantly the family who own the lease company. Their support was unanimous!

Should the trial be successful it may be extended State wide and will be unrestricted for patients in all hospital wards and waiting areas.

The ‘Free Choice Gaming Program’ is all about patients exercising their individual rights and in line with liberal sentiments expressed by the famous Economist Milton Friedman who said, “There is no place for government to prohibit consumers from buying products the effect of which will be to harm themselves”

Oh, how I wish it were that simple!

*Dr Ian Broinowski PhD, MEd, BA(Soc Wk), BEc, Dip Teach, worked as an advanced skills teacher in children’s services at the Institute of TAFE Tasmania in Hobart, Australia for many years. Ian has a background in Economics, Social Work and Education. He has taught in a wide range of subjects in aged care, disability services, children’s services, community and youth work. He worked for a period as a house parent in Bristol, England and Northern Ireland. He has also held positions as a child welfare officer in Tasmania and NSW. Ian’s publications include Child Care Social Policy and Economics, (1994) Creative Childcare Practice: Program design in early childhood, (2002) and recently managed Children’s Services 2004. He has spent the past five years studying his PhD at the University of South Australia in which he examined the relationship between enchantment, imagination and creativity, and the quality of the work of the early childhood educator. Ian was awarded the Jean Denton national scholarship in 2001. He is currently teaching online from Hobart in Education with Open Universities Australia at Curtin University in WA and is a member of the Health and Medical Ethics Committee with the University of Tasmania. In 2013 he presented a paper at the Future of Education Conference in Florence Italy on the ‘Use of Humour in Online Teaching’.

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