A couple of Sydney poker machines—those meritless objects of pure manipulation—took a beating yesterday morning when a 60-year-old man set upon them with a meat cleaver and a hammer. No person was injured during the attack, which occurred at Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic Club in Lidcombe.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the man was later arrested and his weapons seized by police from the garden of a nearby flat. He was charged with destroying or damaging property and being armed with intent to commit an indictable offence; his court date has been set for January 18.
Last December, a report by the independent public policy think tank the Australia Institute revealed the true extent of Australia's poker machine plague. Australia, it said, has about 0.3 percent of the world’s population, but 18 percent of the world's pokies. In numbers, that equates to 196,054 of the world’s 1,076,321 machines.
Australia also has 76 percent of the world’s pub and club-situated poker machines, due to most other countries relegating pokies to "dedicated gambling venues" like casinos, race tracks and betting agencies. That's 183,000 out of 241,000 of the world's poker machines based in non-gaming venues, in our pubs and clubs.
According to an analysis of poker machine gambler's habits published in BMC Public Health journal last year, pokie gamblers (just in pubs and clubs) in NSW and Victoria lose about $3,500 per year (or around $65 per week). The ACT gambler loses around $3,000 per year, followed by the NT and Tasmania, whose gamblers see losses of approximately $1,500 per year.
"It is no surprise when some of the people losing almost $7 billion a year on the pokies in NSW take it out on the predatory machines which are designed to addict and deceive," Tim Costello, director of Alliance for Gambling Reform, told AAP in a statement on Sunday.
"The lax NSW regulatory environment puts little pressure on venues to show a duty of care to people being hurt by a pokies addiction, so this lack of early intervention can often lead to people taking extreme measures against the machines as a last resort."