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 multiple misrepresentations of Liberal pollies and industry lobbyists …

First published Feb 25

Yesterday (23/2/2018) I attended a protest in front of Parliament House against poker machine industry. There were 4 excellent speakers: Leanne Minshull, Pat Caplice, James Boyce and Greg James. I learnt a thing or two from each of them. I was already well aware of the depressing dishonesty and multiple misrepresentations of many Liberal politicians and industry lobbyists in attempting to justify their cowardly acquiescence to the greed and carelessness generated agenda of the poker machine gambling industry. I was not aware of the extent to which Premier Hodgman has failed to understand his own party’s policy and the implications thereof.

At the protest, I had a chance meeting with a reformed poker machine gambling addict. He subsequently shared his story with me. Andrew (not his real name) is now, I guess, in his late forties, early 50s. Andrew now has a loyal partner and holds a responsible job. He has that slightly uneasy ‘I’ve suffered’ demeanour that I’ve seen before in other encounters with reformed addicts. Below are some excerpts from Andrew’s story.

“I started playing pokies at the Launceston casino in the early 1990s when I lived in Launceston. I quickly became addicted. I lost large sums, like my entire pay, on weekends. I also lost heavily during the week.

“One Friday night in August 1997 I lost $1800. I then realised that I had to do something to stop. I self-excluded and went to a Gamblers Anonymous (GA) group and had counselling sessions. For a little while, I stopped playing pokies but then started playing pub pokies. Pub pokies were introduced to Tasmania that year. I lost more money but then self-excluded from all pokie venues. Such was the power of the addiction that I breached the self-exclusion and lost more. No pokie venue staff detected me as being self-excluded. The self-exclusion option is a failure. Nearly every venue has only one or two staff to attend the pokies as well as bar duties. I moved to Hobart in 1999 and quickly continued losing more money to pokies. I fed my addiction by re-drawing on my home loan.

“I went back to GA and self-excluded from all Tasmanian pokies venues. Never once did either of the Federal casinos security recognise me as self-excluded. I was so desperate to break the cycle that on a couple of occasions I actually went around many of the pokie venues, including Wrest Point, and said: ‘remember my face and don’t let me in as I am self-excluded.

“When I attended GA group counselling sessions, I revealed my breaking the self-exclusion order. I had thought that I was the only one. However nearly all of the dozen or so pokie addicts were doing the same thing. This is the addictive nature of pokies. It was scary going to GA meetings. Often the clients had turned to crime to feed their addiction. A couple had served gaol time.

“I finally reformed from pokie addiction about 10 years ago with thanks to a wonderful Anglicare counsellor, Peter (his real name) and support from my partner (Annette, not her real name). I have made a great recovery and have never replaced pokies with other forms of gambling.

“Interesting how the Casinos, Clubs and pubs industry people and Liberals say that the opposite is likely. Research backs this up

“The gambling had little impact on my work apart from making me anxious. My thoughts were of regret over losing money and of getting back to gaming venues as soon as I knocked off work for the day.
When I first became addicted I was still single, paying off my mortgage and living alone. I was a competitive sportsman until 1997. The gambling was one of the reasons that I started losing interest in sport, age and injury were the other factors.

“When I met Annette in late 1997, I stopped pokies for a few months. I began playing again after Annette moved to Hobart in 1999. I would travel from Launceston to Hobart to visit Annette every weekend. At this time, I would stop at pokie venues as well as playing pokies during week night’s back in Launceston. I hid my pokie addiction from Annette. After arriving in Hobart in late 1999 I went playing pokies when Annette was doing shift work.

“Why did I start playing pokies? In the early 1990s in Launceston, I believe that it was loneliness. My childhood was good with nothing traumatic happening. I found that the never ending thrill of thinking that the next spin could be a winner was so reinforced in my thought pattern that it was like an instinct to keep playing.

“The thing that helped me most to reform was Annette who was pregnant with our daughter in 1997. Annette never knew until I told her of my addiction. Annette was devastated when I confessed to her. She also attended counselling sessions to cope with the stress from this. Annette accompanied me to get counselling. Peter, from Anglicare, was my counsellor. Peter really helped me make great progress in finally reforming. I had attended GA group sessions which never quite succeeded for me.

I have been reformed now for over 10 years. I have had no relapses. I have never found any other form of gambling to replace pokies. I do play weekly Tattslotto. That has never been an issue. I have played Tattslotto weekly off and on since 1979”.

*Frank Nicklason is Chairman of the Royal Hobart Hospital Medical Staff Association.

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


  1. Frank Nicklason

    February 28, 2018 at 6:34 am

    Dear Frank,

    It is an issue of mateship par excellence/fairness to rid our communities of the pokies.

    A David and Goliath battle is on here to do what is right.

    Obviously there is far more to be done than take the machines away, and not only compensation, but having a hard look/root cause analysis of the whole issue – the malaise, deep in the way we live, support our parents and children, how we educate, how we measure good and harm, where we place our hope..etc etc is at the heart of it, and at least we need truly to think about it thoroughly.

  2. Frank Nicklason

    February 28, 2018 at 12:01 am

    #5 … Good point. I am not representing the RHH MSA in that post. I did not include that info when I sent in the post. Someone else added it, not sure who.

    Be that as it may there is wide recognition of the problems associated with pokie gambling amongst my work colleagues. We see the effects of family strife, poverty and mental ill health. We also regularly see people unable to afford their necessary medication, sometimes related to pokie gambling losses.

  3. Robin Charles Halton

    February 27, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    To be fair Frank in the longer term as I appreciate your conversation outlining reasons at least for a reduction in pokies in pubs and clubs for reason that I would consider as fair game!

    My reaction at this particular State election is the likely message for the Hodgman government will be returned but with a lesser majority which may indicate concerns with their particular gaming policy or lack of “in depth” social concerns.

    Political analysis by Anthony Green and our local specialist, the local guy, cant think of his name, his mother was a well known and respected HCC alderman, should be able to sort out the mood of the political result for Tasmania.

    For those with pokie addiction, I am not so supportive of their needs, but I reckon that Hodgman will get a message of sorts that he has to act during his return to government by a slim margin.

  4. Verdun Schmerl

    February 27, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Is this bloke claiming to represent the Royal Hobart Hospital medical Staff Assoc. with his partisan comments?

    I doubt it, and if this isn’t the position of this Association why does he feel the need to use that in his bio?

  5. Chris Harries

    February 26, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    It’s truly ironical how the problem gambling victim demography is being urged by the exploiting industry to vote against their interest. And will do so. The only question is how many voters see the irony and may choose not to comply.

    Thankyou for this story, Frank.

  6. Frank Nicklason

    February 25, 2018 at 12:30 am

    Tim Costello recently drew a parallel between the power that the NRA and gun lobbyists have in the United States over politicians that which Federal Group and the poker machine barons have in Australia. He called it ‘legislative capture’.

    Costello then suggested that, when considering historical context of the Second Amendment, logically Americans should be only allowed to bear a musket. Moving on to HL Mencken, I wonder what form of gambling he was referring to. It could not have been the high intensity, designed to addict poker machines of today.

  7. Emmanuel Goldstein

    February 24, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    “The taste for gambling is a kind of feeble mindedness, maybe even an insanity. It can be justified only by resort to the most preposterous sophistry.” (H L Mencken 1880-1956)

  8. Wining Pom

    February 24, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Devastating story, and thank goodness you’re over it.

    Vote Liberal if you want more stories like this.

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