gambling donations

It’s illegal to play two-up on any other day except Anzac Day. Now as gambling goes, two-up is relatively harmless. And yet the powers that be have decided to ban this form of betting, presumably to protect punters.

At the Alliance for Gambling Reform, of which I’m a part, we are not against gambling. We are just against con jobs. And tragically, too many RSL clubs rely on the biggest and most deadly con job in Australia: poker machines, which are currently designed by addiction specialists to create addiction.

If two-up is as harmless as one, or maybe two, quiet beers on a hot summer’s day, poker machines are the polar opposite. They are the crack cocaine of gambling. They are designed to turn innocent Aussies into addicted Aussies. That is at the centre of the business model.

So why on Earth would the RSL clubs want anything to do with the pokies business?

By choosing to run the current crop of poker machines, which are misleading and deceptive by design, too many RSLs are forgetting what our Diggers were actually fighting for.

Australian servicemen and women always believed they were fighting for freedom, justice and to protect the vulnerable. Not one Digger ever died defending the right of an RSL club to screw over his or her fellow Australians.

And yet, too many RSL clubs continue to treat unsuspecting Aussies like cannon fodder. Over and over again, misguided and overpaid club managers battle to win over more tainted poker-machine money.

Screwing over your mates? Now that is unAustralian.

Luckily there are people in the RSL movement who remember what the Anzac spirit is really all about, and they want nothing to do with this misleading and deceptive product. People like former NSW RSL president Don Rowe realise that the poker machine industry abuses the memory of our Anzacs.

Don clearly knows that the sick and manipulative poker machine industry uses the memories of our fallen soldiers to distract us from the deliberate and deceptive destruction caused by the industry’s product.

And just last week a survey of RSL members in Tasmania received harsh feedback that operating the current crop of pokies is at odds with what the RSL stands for, and what our servicemen and women have always fought for.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

RSLs could actually keep operating pokies, as long as they committed themselves to con-free machines. Con-free machines are machines that don’t create addiction because they don’t contain the secret computer features that turn a regular punter into a victim of the poker machine industry.

In a few weeks time, law firm Maurice Blackburn will launch a court case designed to prove current poker machines are deliberately designed to be misleading and deceptive. For the first time ever, this will allow us to define what a “con-free machine” is.

This is the way forward.

By committing to “con-free machines”, RSLs will be embracing the spirit of a game of two-up, and they will finally be turning their backs on deliberate, deceptive addiction.

For a century, Anzac Day has been a day when we all pause to remember the men and women who died in so many battles.

But if we really care about their memories, surely we’ve got to also remember the values they were actually fighting for.

Peter Fray

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today and get your first 12 weeks for $12.

Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey