HISTORY shows Australia’s problems with gambling started a short time after Governor Arthur Phillip steered the First Fleet into Sydney Cove in January, 1788.
It was a convict named Harris who goes down in the annals as the first people on Australian soil to propose gambling control.
Judge Advocate David Collins records that Harris suggested that “12 reliable men should be selected from among the better-behaved convicts to patrol the settlement at night and detain stragglers and other persons acting suspiciously”.
Governor Phillip approved the night watch, 12 “better-behaved” convicts were selected, and the night watch began its duties.
Collins records that the night was tasked with preventing “gambling and the sale of liquor”, and reported to him each morning.
NSW isn’t a penal colony anymore and the job of controlling gambling has shifted from “better-behaved” convicts to the NSW Government.
Critics of the government’s gambling policies would probably argue the convicts did a better job.
Young residents gambled more than $68,151,726.67 in 2015-2016 from 157 machines.The official figures have revealed the annual turnover for gaming machines in clubs and hotels in Young is staggering.
But figures in the tens of millions can be almost meaningless because they are so big. Consider this instead.
Punters are spending more than $186,000 per day on gambling in Young according to Department of Justice NSW figures. More than $186,000 every day was put through Young poker machines in the 2015-16 financial year. That’s more than $7,750 every hour.
By the time you finish reading this editorial hundreds more will have been put through Young’s machines.
Poker machines have been around in NSW since they were legalised more than six decades ago, but the sheer volume of machines and the vast sums ploughed through poker machines has changed the equation.
A government that relies so heavily on gambling revenue can’t help but be conflicted about controlling the rivers of gold. The sheer volume of poker machine taxes ensures that.
There are far fewer poker machines than there were nearly two decades ago, but that only makes the continued rise of money pouring into those machines more alarming.
Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson said problem gamblers made up a small percentage of punters, but their debts had serious consequences. “It is a major problem, gambling addiction, because when it strikes it invariably affects not only the gambler but the family around that person,” he said.
In 1788 a dozen men and a lamp kept gambling under control.
In 2017 it feels like the horse may have already bolted.
Our readers have sent in this week’s thumbs up and thumbs down.
To the pony club organisers for their dedication over the last few months getting the camp ready and for their dedication turning up each day in the cold.
To the friendly staff at the Young Post Office always ready to help with any inquiry.
Getting a photograph of my friends and I in the Young Witness.
Harden piggery not approved.
To the litter bugs still not getting it, throw it in the bin!
More expensive electricity bills. Remember Mike Baird's famous comments when he sold our electricity network? “Your electricity will be cheaper with this sale.” Will Young resident’s remember those words at the next election?