Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: GAMBLE (04/14/16)
TITLE: Blow up the Pokies
By Nicki Jeffery
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Tim sips his beer and smiles at the video screen. It is time to play adventure hero again. In this world, he feels like a winner. Here at his local club, he is affirmed and comforted.
Michelle and their daughters are temporarily forgotten. The divorce and court decision are a distant nightmare. The sound of galloping horses’ hooves carries him away to new lands. With every “ta da” he tingles inside. The rush of adrenalin surges through him.
This is the trap that holds 200 000 Australians hostage. It makes 12 billion dollars per year. Half of this revenue comes from addicts. What is it? The poker machine, or pokies.
The evil genius of Aussie pubs and clubs, owners can make 100 000 dollars annually by turning on a switch. Casinos, companies like supermarket giants and the government also benefit financially. The poorest communities have the most machines and lose the most money.
Slot machines were invented in the 1880s. Charles August Fey made the first coin-operated gambling machine in 1894 in the USA. Just 15 years later, his invention was banned.
In 1956, pokie machines were legalised in New South Wales. They started appearing in community and sporting clubs across the state. In 2016, there are more than 200 000 pokies in our nation.
Poker machines are now virtual worlds, alluring struggling people with animated strong characters in adventure stories, and music composed to redirect thoughts.
According to psychiatrists, all drugs of addiction increase the release of dopamine neurons. Stimulating these neurons leads to addiction. A poker machine is a powerful tool for addiction. This electronic morphine, the crack cocaine of gambling, causes gambling disorder and is considered substance abuse.
Who might end up at Pokies Anonymous? A divorcee whose kids are with his ex-partner, like Tim. A grieving mother, or a bachelor who wants to win big. People who are more prone to addiction due to their genetic code. But the smarts of game designers mean no one is immune. Multi-lined machines make it impossible to know if a player is winning or not. They are mathematically designed to return only 90 per cent of inserted funds.
Proverbs 13:11 NIV says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”
It is a “secret battle” as The Whitlams describe in their song, “Blow up the Pokies”. Maybe in his heart, Tim knows that any money he could make from his gambling addiction would not be earned honestly. But something deeper is taking place here. It is a mental battle. The toxic lure of the poker machine robs his community of interaction. Stealing time as the hours tick by. Harming families.
Having lost all his money again, Tim winces and rubs the back of his neck. His eyes dart from side to side. He bows his head and slinks out like a mouse with a sliver of cheese. Only he has no cheese. He makes the walk of shame.
Sadly, people like Tim have been let down by our leaders. Instead of the government placing restrictions on the amount of money that can be fed into the hungry machines each day, politicians continue to protect the pokies. With the accusation, you’re “killing your club”, the powers backed down. By preserving the poker machine, they have allowed human misery to carry on.
Placing the onus back on the gamer, authorities claim that it is up to the individual to gamble responsibly. Fill out a form and send it away. Only then will the gambler’s photograph be sent to their local club banning them from playing the pokies.
1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Please pray for Australia. Pray for our men and women caught up in the web of constant poker machine play. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s conviction. And pray for Christians to enter the worlds of these addicts, some of whom may have a faith in God too.
Galatians 6:1-2 NIV says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
The author acknowledges the following sources:
ABC Documentaries (2015) – Ka Ching Pokie Nation [YouTube]
“Slot Machine: gambling device” by Dan Glimne [Encyclopaedia Britannica online]
“Blow up the Pokies” by The Whitlams [song lyrics online]
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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