Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


The Pokies Horror …

James Boyce’s groundbreaking book … HERE

Pic: Promoting Federal … Image of Paul Lennon from HERE

Promoting Federal … Pic: of Steve Old

*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?


*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 …

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. PHilip Lowe

    August 31, 2017 at 1:39 am

    when Andrew Wilkie stood as Member for Dennison in 200? I stood on the side of Sandy Bay Rd.holding his large placard.
    I received some abuse and lots of support.I had his sticker on my tool case,even when I worked in the CasinoIf they had thrown me out it would have been a sacrifice worth making and a bloody good embellishable story for my collectionYoi are going to have to get out there and really be see an and heard.I still have Wilkie’s stickers on my instrument cases.People here ask me about them and I tell the story.The gambling situation here is just as bad as Tassie.When people here hit rock bottom,the state has to pick up the remains.What a silly,socially destructive system.

  2. Stephen Menadue

    August 30, 2017 at 2:53 am

    One scenario comes to mind. The Federal Group gets out whilst the going is good-not even trying to get the licenses watered down and the the party that ends up with power gets moneystruck and sees a ‘Golden’ opportunity to pay for a few things, ‘much needed things’, and then start divying up the licenses in the most profitable way. It’s easy to imagine Labor doing that. It’s easy to imagine the Liberal Party doing it as well but with the appearance of austerity.

  3. mike seabrook

    August 30, 2017 at 2:44 am

    will be interesting when home buyers wake up to the scam being run by the central bankers appointed by the pollies

  4. Stephen Menadue

    August 29, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    There was a small paragraph that should have been in the article. It is That the most despicable thing to do-being able to look someone(you love or care for) in the eyes and lie to them, knowing their money has been or even worse, will be spent. This compromise of morality becomes a ‘necessity’ to to the pokies addict.Such a radical change in character is pretty much always brought about by entering the darkest of contracts. There IS a ‘contract’ between the addict and the machine except that the addict has an emotional relationship with the machine that causes them to have expectations and consequently, angry disappointment when that the machine doesn’t live up to the ‘contract’ that exists only in the addict’s mind.

  5. J B Nimble

    August 29, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Re # 14, I agree, I won’t go near a pub with poker machines, I find them so depressing & boring.

    I remember going to wonderful pubs in England & Ireland, no poker machines, just great food, & live music, every patron happy & having a great time.

    J B Nimble.

  6. Steve

    August 28, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    The other victim in this story is the poor old Australian pub. Remember back when there was a pub culture that didn’t involve flashing lights?
    Take the pokies away and the pressure comes on to run an attractive business. At the moment, the pokie pubs drain the patrons from the non-pokie pubs. The problem is exacerbated due to a small and diverse population.
    We only ever go out to a pub because we’re invited to something and invariably, it’s a pokie pub, because the meals are cheap and there’s things for the kids to do. Just like the RSL culture in NSW.

  7. Stephen Menadue

    August 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    My past character certainly does not personify those who gamble with control. In fact, it personifies the antithesis of a good citizen.
    I put forward my feelings and thoughts and rationalisations only because there seems to be very few other ex-addicts willing to come forward. Am i bleating (my words) a stream of poor me’s or victim mentality? It may well sound like that to some but i try to frame what i say as purely factual and when necessary, inject remembered emotion in order to try and take people to a place where they may be able to briefly understand a bit better and maybe even get involved in the war.
    If i can take people to that place of contemplation and it helps with the knowledge base of this subject then write i will. I didn’t come to Tassie as a penitent although i am very sorry for what i’ve done. The fact that i talk about redemption and ‘paying back’ is driven by my own personal beliefs yet it is not so far removed from the normal human and societal concept and actions of being sorry and trying to become a better person.
    I deeply resent those who default to an anti GOD stance. I rarely mention His name and do not bible bash yet many of those who are so anti Christian keep using Jesus’ name. I’m sorry, but anyone who hates God but uses his name (especially without context) is a hypocrite.
    If i give God the credit for helping me to stop gambling, who is anyone to try and tear that belief down and how the F#@$ does it affect our common good. If i talked about my faith in God as much as these Christian haters talk about their disbelief, i WOULD be bible bashing. Please don’t start something that has nothing to do with the subject-or do it in private communication. Someone does a kind deed or speaks a kind or encouraging word out of love just as i do and say what i do (mostly) out of love. Why would anyone with a rational mind want to detour a totally separate conversation towards where a person’s motives come from?
    How about writing a piece about your unbelief versus other’s beliefs and see what ‘meat’ comes into the conversation.

  8. Greg James

    August 28, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Chris #10 be alarmed. The casino is specifically not required to return stolen goods. They keep any funds embezzled from any company and no matter if employees lose their jobs, people go bankrupt or commit suicide, imprisoned or impoverished. The Casino keeps the money.
    Of course you and I pay increased taxes for social costs, looking after abandoned employees, families etc … but the Farrells lose nothing.
    It is true that whenever they have asked for discounts, tax relief and reduced duties they almost always receive what they ask for.

  9. TV Resident

    August 28, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    While we have gov’ts, both labor and liberal, both federal and state, that can and will be bought by these parasitic industries I can’t see anything changing, unfortunately. No 7…I don’t play the pokies or gamble in any form as I find it quite boring and tedious just with the noise. I also don’t go knocking on peoples doors sprouting religion or anything else, that is just as deceitful and boring. We seem to get unindated with these parasitic machines and booze shops wherever we go. If anyone does have a problem with either, it is not right to have them on almost every street corner. I put the blame solely onto gov’ts, as listed above, for allowing this to happen in the first place and now they need to do something about the mess they have created. They should start by ignoring the pleas from the likes of the ‘P***h**d’ Lennon to continue with this cancer on society and stop the bribes.

  10. Chris

    August 28, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Can the Government and Federal be “responsible” for handling Stolen goods where a player plays with stolen money?

  11. Mick Kenny

    August 28, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    It would be interesting to review the number of occasions various treasurers, payroll, accounts or related staff in organisations and businesses have been identified as having stolen significant sums to gamble. These are easily predicted and inevitable consequences of the ‘gaming’ industry, and yet gambling outlets seem immune to any criticism or responsibility for these individual disasters and more pervasive social harms to those like family members. Indeed, the industry profits with impunity, as things stand. Whatever the community allegedly benefits from such economies is debatable, the real sums involved insignificant, when compared to the gambling industry profits and monopolies.

  12. Dr Frank Nicklason

    August 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Dear Editor

    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.

    Whilst there is a superficial appeal to ending the 40 year monopoly on the poker machine money making exercise held by the super-powerful Federal Group this alternative needs to be very carefully considered.

    If clubs and pubs are allowed to hold individual licences and thus make more money from poker machines then they too will become addicted to this income. At this time the State Government gains only a very small proportion of it’s revenue from poker machine gambling profits.

    Increased poker machine profits to individual clubs, pubs and Government coffers will entrench the unpopular poker machines in Tasmanian life. The goal of a future generation to free themselves of poker machine culture would be much more to achieve.

    Opponents of necessary poker machine reform have an predictable array of spurious counter arguments, based on self interest, and non of which are supported by the facts or by consideration of harm-individual, family or community harm.

    Free choice and personal responsibility are the catch cries. As Sir Max Bingham pointed out in his Mercury letter the power of neuro-scientific research has been used to ensure that current poker machines have all the catchy bells, whistles and ‘near miss’ features to trap the unwary and vulnerable. Freedom? I don’t think so.

    An estimate is that 15% of regular poker machine gamblers become addicted and another 15% are put at risk. This 30% of poker machine gamblers is responsible for 60% of the money lost to poker machine gambling in Tasmania. Addiction is the exactly opposite of freedom. Who is most likely to become addicted to drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, sex or gambling and other forms of risk taking?

    Early childhood developmental research indicates that disadvantage or trauma in those crucial years is a powerful risk factor for subsequent addictive behaviour and all the life-long negative personal consequences.

  13. cataraqui

    August 28, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Jesus, it seems that the poor old Tas Times has become a refugee centre for the penitent. Sentiment continuum will not change a thing. Unless its headlined ad nauseam in the main media, nothing gets changed. Stephen’s epic tale of pokie enthusiast, pokie victim, anti-pokie evangelist should become the base of a Statewide demographic/sociological study prior to any Parliamentary considerations of the future of these machines. At the end of the day one’s gotta have a bitta fun, but pokies we should shun. Having a bet on the gee-gees requires a cursory study of the form guide so most don’t bother. How many hopefuls take Tattslotto tickets and how much is spent (NOW ONLINE FOLKS) on these, given that last week almost a billion bucks was won by some yank with one ticket and the publicity was global. Pokies in pubs is no different to playing them online, except the atmosphere is absent. How many on-liners are there? This too should have been part of a minister’s briefing. Most people like a bit of a flutter of some kind, otherwise join the Joe Whittey’s Brigade or the 7-Dayers and become an irksome door-knocker to get your rocks off and pick up huge God points for having a door slam in your face or being ushered from the yard by a pre-emptive rottweiler strike-force. Lots of stuff to get the adrenalin flowing without becoming a ‘victim’ as Stephen. His opponents (mostly career public servants who tell the elected what to say and and act) will simply dismiss Stephen as a victim of a lack of self-control; and that his criminal activity and subsequent prison-time does not personify those who enjoy and can control the right to push an occasional button on the ubiquitous pokie. Any study should go to li’l country towns that became drained of cash-flow for food, rent and good old-fashioned pub-talk as soon as they hit the pubs. If you are elected, are conscience-free, have secret drinks with the Godfathers of Perdition (translates as lobbying) and are destined to have your photo in the Who’s Who of Tasmanian leadership, then all other stuff really pales into low-consideration. Most of the stuff in this and other topic-related blog is purely philosophical. All it does it cement the view that in a great democracy we can all have our say, particularly reformed crusading crims, blaming their weaknesses on the gumment agin. As for me, well we visit Lonnie relatives and enjoy a few beers in a pokie-free pub. Here we sit and chat and watch the numbers come up on keno, where a 50 bucks ticket lasts for about 150 minutes. At cash-in time I mostly get a bit more than half back, sometimes all plus a small bonus. That’s mixing good beer (make that Boags!) with good mates, and good pub-banter. Now to me that’s Aussie and I would never change a thing. Nothing wrong with a little punt, if you’re not looking for a desperate win to make amends for a desperate life.

  14. Stephen Menadue

    August 28, 2017 at 9:13 am

    The expectations placed upon Non Government Organisations (NGOs) to clean up and try to alleviate the problems caused by poker machine addicts on themselves,family, loved ones,friends and many facets of community are nothing less than a purposeful looking away by governments from their own responsibility.

    Giving a few bucks to those organisations doesn’t equate to an acceptable “passing on” of the problem. If the burden of responsibility does lay with these orgs, then accede to their wisdom and experience and listen to their ideas for solutions.

    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. This says nothing of the secret shame they must have for accepting the revenue from the pokies.

    The ins and outs and reasons about how these machines get away with “Unarmed Robbery” can be totally put aside if the truth be acknowledged that the individual and societal costs of this addiction are the things that need addressing.The machines have been deceptively designed to cause addiction.

    I used to think it was our fault for not crying or shouting out loudly enough but there have always been those individuals and organisations that continue to speak out and try to get government to get on board.

    Actually, i believe that despite having raised our voices against this pillage, we actually may need to go hoarse to make things move. A VOICE EQUALS A VOTE.

    Think global, act local is the way that inertia will get hold of this and smack hard the face of the Tassie Government to make them realise the majority of Tasmanians want Pokies gone out of their suburbs.

    FIRST for all those affected. Second-because we care. Thirdly to put that money back where it should go (rent, food, local businesses and school excursions). And Fourthly as an example for others to follow and Lastly to demonstrate to profiteers that they can go …

  15. Stephen Menadue

    August 28, 2017 at 1:43 am

    It is currently an issue with regard to the election but not yet spoken about(in truth).
    The groundswell on this occasion feels big to me and actually is big. Despite whether a deadline is missed or the issue is glossed over, it’s not going away and the players should be ready for justice. Justice for those who are affected greatly by the pokies and never play one and justice for those who are to come that are ripe for the picking.
    The moments in time that people like Kim Booth, Andrew Wilkie, James Boyce and many others have determined in their spirit that they would go really hard on this issue, are ever present and give power to all those who hate the pokies. It is so often not a push but a barrage that brings about much needed change and even puts to an end a form of oppression.
    Don’t forget the siren song-it guarantees the sucker will come through the door. There actually is a valid analogy to be made by comparing the cartoon that entices someone in by a wavy smell line which lifts them of their feet to the source and the siren song created by pleasureable chemicals and visual and audio triggers created by the memory of times before in front of their “partner’ in crime. That is, an electronic gaming machine.
    I was at my most delusional in the space between getting money and relieving myself of it

  16. Simon Warriner

    August 27, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    re #2,…..is an example of the party political corruption that pervades the politics……

    There, all fixed now.

    While ever we fail to recognise and name the mechanism by which this ethical insult is delivered and the moral perversion is perpetrated we will never, ever fix the problem.

    83% eh. That does not leave much of an opportunity for the liblab coalition to form a government with, does it? Worth the effort, I reckon.

    Now we need a big effort to get decent people to stand as independents. All the better if they loathe the pokies and the ethical wasteland they represent.

  17. Chris

    August 27, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Heads in the bath eh?

  18. Greg James

    August 27, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    The next election is a good time for a referendum on this matter. The polls from TASCOSS indicate that 83% of the population regard this as an imposition on Tasmania and it is time to give the people a say.
    The fact that Scott Bacon cannot formulate a policy for the ALP, after 22 years of social destruction that pokies have forced onto Tasmania, is an example of the corruption that pervades the politics of Tasmania over parasitic poker machines. The second fact is that not one candidate on either Labor or Liberal side will condemn the ex ALP Premier Paul Lennon for being hired as a lobbyist for Federal Hotels after years of giving them benefits as a Premier and Minister of the Crown. It is an ethical insult and a moral perversion.

  19. Ted Mead

    August 27, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    This is a powerful and compelling account of what pokie machines can do to the vulnerable.

    I doubt anyone in authority would be moved by this story.

    We know It’s about corporate greed, spineless and insensitive politicians, and a head in the sand approach by the Liberal/gambling mafia.

    Exposure of this rotten to the core industry, needs to become a major issue rolling into the forthcoming election

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