Poker machines continue to wreak havoc in Tasmanians neediest communities. They are concentrated often in the poorest regions. Pokies suck up to $2m a month from some of Tasmania’s most disadvantaged suburbs – money that should have been spent on clothing, groceries and birthday presents.

Studies show that for every person with a gambling problem, another five to ten people are affected, meaning around 27,000 Tasmanians are bearing the brunt. This number includes an estimated 2,000 children.

Pokies have the highest loses of all gambling and nearly half of their takings come from problem or moderate risk gamblers. The machines are programmed so that the gambler  loses and deliberately entices users to continue playing.

The ABC documentary ‘Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation’ which screened nationally late last year uncovered the methods pokie designers use.

Alluring graphics, sounds, lights and music are all engineered to exploit how the brain works by triggering chemicals (like dopamine) at similar levels to those exhibited in the brains of those with severe drug addictions.

No wonder they have been called the ‘the electronic morphine’ and ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’.

Gambling disorder is found alongside cocaine and heroin in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?

One only needs to look at the wreckage meted upon families of a pokie addict to agree the comparison with hard drugs is not far off the mark.

One poker machine designer interviewed in the documentary said, “I have such pity for the people that play them”.

In conjunction with the makers of the documentary, ACL is hosting a special public screening of ‘Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation’ in the Tasmanian parliament this month.

An expert panel will answer questions from the audience afterward. A good number of politicians from across the political spectrum have already signed up to attend.

Pokie harms could be significantly averted with a few simple policy changes like mandatory $1 bet limits. ACL, along with many others, has been pushing for such changes for years.

Please pray that this event will make a significant contribution to such reform.

Why not come along and be part of the conversation. You can register here for the screening which is at Parliament House Hobart on Wednesday March 16, 7pm.

Registration link: