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I f you approach the Mount Pritchard Community Club on the bus from Cabramatta, the first thing you see is the name in giant capitals splashed across a concrete tower: The club is a sprawling structure of glass and concrete, a blend of gentle curves and sharp edges bounded by car parks.

It is so distinct from the surrounding suburb that it looks to have been dropped there by some architecturally careless god. I approach the row of membership scanners with Pokies Big Win Football Big Players Do This Crossword displays monitored by a friendly uniformed woman. She welcomes me, processing my ID. The first thing I notice is the smell: The scent suggests concealment, an attempt to neutralise the unpleasant or distinctive, whether nicotine, sweat, alcohol, buffet food or cleaning fluid.

The club is currently home to Pokies Biggest Winners On Jeopardy Tv Schedule machines — no doubt the renovations will see that number increased substantially.

You might enter a club for any number of reasons: At Mounties, the gaming floor is off the lobby, to the left. Most of the clubs I visit adhere to this structure: At Burwood RSL, for instance, I look past the staff greeting me and see the telltale glow of the gaming room, visible between narrow panes of glass decorated with cascading water. A woman behind the counter gestures to an attendant: He twigs to the instruction before it is delivered, raising his hands, palms out, apologetically.

Pokie players tend to be simultaneously mesmerised and alert, as if expecting to be caught in the act. Those I do catch in the act are almost always over 50, though I visit mostly during the day, with elderly women the most represented demographic. Most people play alone.

When I do see players interacting, they are invariably either a couple when a husband and wife are at the same machine, the husband is always instructing the wife or gaggles of grey-haired ladies.

Even when crowded and noisy, gaming areas are lonely places. Pokies induce a state of soothing, absent-minded automation, distracting from obligation and anxiety. No one is immune to this appeal, an appeal similar to that of alcohol, or television, or methamphetamines, or Facebook. But pokies constitute a particularly insidious version.

Researching this article, I repeatedly heard stories of problem gamblers regardless of background hiding the addiction from family, friends, and employers for as long as possible. The machines, with their constant stimulation, promote this isolation.

In gaming areas life, whether terrible or beautiful, is deferred. With its gaudy aesthetic and arcade games, Kaos is unsettlingly similar to the room below. Keogh left home at 17 with stress-induced medical issues, working three jobs in order to support herself. According to the Australian Medical Association, for every person who suffers from a gambling problem approximately 2. Additionally, around suicides in Australia each year are attributable to a gambling addiction, and a Australian National University study of gaming machines in Victoria linked the presence of poker machines in a postcode to a significant increase in domestic violence.

Gambling can destroy lives quickly. Livingstone is the closest Australia has to an anti-gambling guru. A senior lecturer in the School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash, he studies the relationship between poker machine gambling and socio-economic disadvantage, focusing specifically on health and harm minimisation. The feebleness of self-exclusion — the program allows individuals to specify places or online sites from which they wish to be banned — is compounded by NSW venues facing no consequences if they fail to remove a self-excluded patron from the gaming floor or venue.

In the gaming room at Mounties, warnings against addiction are ubiquitous but they are submerged in an ocean of visual stimulation and formulated as accusations. In other words, the burden is shifted from venues to players.

Livingstone highlights the inadequacy of this approach by comparing it with other health responses — for example, dealing with a contaminated water supply by providing hospitals with antibiotics, rather than treating the water. Visual messaging in gaming rooms takes two conflicting forms: Black-clad gaming attendants swoop in to serve refreshments ordered with the press of a button. Less extravagant is the sticker reminding you of the odds of hitting the jackpot: The touchscreen display cycles through drinks specials, advertisements and competitions.

Cartoonishly sexy animations flash across screens, resembling banner ads for free-to-play fantasy video games. Many are startlingly racist, featuring Asian or Middle Eastern caricatures ripped from the pages of 19th-century tales of colonialist adventure. The tawdry triviality implies that this is not a place where you will bleed serious money, but an arcade where you might lose a few coins.

You select how many credits to bet per line one credit usually equals 1cwhich is then multiplied by the number of lines you choose to have in play. In the anticipatory trance of play, however, the brain registers this as a victory.

And every win, no matter the size, is accompanied by celebratory visual and audio reinforcement. Pokies never play negative sounds. Beyond the lines and credits, each machine has its own dizzying set of rules, available for perusal at the press of a button, but surely rarely checked. Here is one of more than a dozen rules on the Seven Seas machine: The main gaming room at Mounties is indistinguishable from the gaming floor of any casino. Walking among the Microgaming Pokies Ricci Christina, it is difficult to get a sense of the entire space from any one point within it.

The prevailing feeling is that this part of the club is entirely its own, dissociated from the Pokies Big Win Football Big Players Do This Crossword venue, like the engine room of a cruise liner. The area is windowless, the walls a dull shade of ochre; the lighting is a dim, jaundiced yellow, drawing out the thin, gleaming neons that border the machine cases and their hypnotic, luminescent screens.

Then there is the never-ending soundtrack of jaunty circus melodies and hands slapping plastic buttons. This all contributes to a sensation of stupefaction that pulls people towards the pokies and keeps them there. Then, entering through a side door, they have to navigate indirect routes, multiple elevators and disorienting corridors.

Finally, there is the issue of transporting the victim: Clubs are reluctant to take any action that will reduce the gambling in their venues. The documentary Ka-Ching! In short, pokies are a terrible bet for the player, and a licence to print money for both the owner and the state government. Plenty of actions could be taken to reduce the harm done by pokies — if there was the political will to do so. The report also recommends introducing a mandatory pre-commitment system.

This means that players must decide on their maximum spend before playing, and are prevented from playing on any machine in a particular jurisdiction once they have hit their ceiling. With more than 6.

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Because clubs are not-for-profit establishments, Pokies Bonus $ Wallet Phone is poured back into the venues, renovating, diversifying, and subsidising meals and services. Increasingly, clubs are absorbing the community under the banner of serving the community. The agreement with Baird committed his administration to exploring financial assistance to clubs in providing aged- and child-care facilities.

The only specific requirements for venues are that machines be switched off between 4am and 10am, and that all service staff undertake the Responsible Conduct of Gambling training course.

Leigh Mason suffered on and off from a severe gambling addiction from toat which time he finally sought help. I ask Mason whether, during this time, he was ever discouraged from gambling. At the height of his addiction, he would frequently play until his credit-card limit was maxed out. Then, he would wait until midnight when the limit reset, and max it out again. He still sees a counsellor regularly. I spend hours on gaming floors and never once witness an impassioned celebration.

The closest I see to evidence of pleasure is a woman who has scored a number of free spins, attracting a cadre of octogenarians who coo approvingly for several minutes, watching her credits tick up. There are a lot of pokies, and a lot of people playing them.

Two pokies over, a lone woman, who must be in her eighties, steadies her tremor by gripping the machine. For each spin, she strikes the play button three times with the force of a bodyguard punching his palm.

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That she is playing for nothing but the anticipation is obvious in the way her mouth moves, caught in a trembling inward breath, as if she is preparing to smile. This is an edited extract of the essay Money against Eternity published in the new issue of Overland magazine. Please choose your username under which you would like all your comments to show up. You can only set your username once. Australian politics New South Wales features. Order by newest oldest recommendations.

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Many are startlingly racist, featuring Asian or Middle Eastern caricatures ripped from the pages of 19th-century tales of colonialist adventure. The tawdry triviality implies that this is not a place where you will bleed serious money, but an arcade where you might lose a few coins.

You select how many credits to bet per line one credit usually equals 1c , which is then multiplied by the number of lines you choose to have in play.

In the anticipatory trance of play, however, the brain registers this as a victory. And every win, no matter the size, is accompanied by celebratory visual and audio reinforcement. Pokies never play negative sounds. Beyond the lines and credits, each machine has its own dizzying set of rules, available for perusal at the press of a button, but surely rarely checked.

Here is one of more than a dozen rules on the Seven Seas machine: The main gaming room at Mounties is indistinguishable from the gaming floor of any casino. Walking among the machines, it is difficult to get a sense of the entire space from any one point within it. The prevailing feeling is that this part of the club is entirely its own, dissociated from the larger venue, like the engine room of a cruise liner. The area is windowless, the walls a dull shade of ochre; the lighting is a dim, jaundiced yellow, drawing out the thin, gleaming neons that border the machine cases and their hypnotic, luminescent screens.

Then there is the never-ending soundtrack of jaunty circus melodies and hands slapping plastic buttons. This all contributes to a sensation of stupefaction that pulls people towards the pokies and keeps them there. Then, entering through a side door, they have to navigate indirect routes, multiple elevators and disorienting corridors.

Finally, there is the issue of transporting the victim: Clubs are reluctant to take any action that will reduce the gambling in their venues. The documentary Ka-Ching! In short, pokies are a terrible bet for the player, and a licence to print money for both the owner and the state government. Plenty of actions could be taken to reduce the harm done by pokies — if there was the political will to do so. The report also recommends introducing a mandatory pre-commitment system.

This means that players must decide on their maximum spend before playing, and are prevented from playing on any machine in a particular jurisdiction once they have hit their ceiling. With more than 6. Because clubs are not-for-profit establishments, revenue is poured back into the venues, renovating, diversifying, and subsidising meals and services.

Increasingly, clubs are absorbing the community under the banner of serving the community. The agreement with Baird committed his administration to exploring financial assistance to clubs in providing aged- and child-care facilities.

The only specific requirements for venues are that machines be switched off between 4am and 10am, and that all service staff undertake the Responsible Conduct of Gambling training course. Leigh Mason suffered on and off from a severe gambling addiction from to , at which time he finally sought help. I ask Mason whether, during this time, he was ever discouraged from gambling. At the height of his addiction, he would frequently play until his credit-card limit was maxed out.

Then, he would wait until midnight when the limit reset, and max it out again. He still sees a counsellor regularly. I spend hours on gaming floors and never once witness an impassioned celebration. The closest I see to evidence of pleasure is a woman who has scored a number of free spins, attracting a cadre of octogenarians who coo approvingly for several minutes, watching her credits tick up. There are a lot of pokies, and a lot of people playing them.

Two pokies over, a lone woman, who must be in her eighties, steadies her tremor by gripping the machine. For each spin, she strikes the play button three times with the force of a bodyguard punching his palm.

That she is playing for nothing but the anticipation is obvious in the way her mouth moves, caught in a trembling inward breath, as if she is preparing to smile.

This is an edited extract of the essay Money against Eternity published in the new issue of Overland magazine. Please choose your username under which you would like all your comments to show up. You can only set your username once. Australian politics New South Wales features.

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