he saying goes that as long as the waterfall flows in the foyer of Canterbury League Club, the Bulldogs will remain strong. While consenting adults plonk ever more gold into the poker machines, the footy club can afford Des Hasler as coach, James Graham as captain and Josh Reynolds as chief agitator. And if you’ve twigged early to the slant of this piece, a free spin http://www.officialoriolestore.com/Mark_Trumbo_Jersey on The Queen of the Nile for you. Yes, the pokies, the font of revenue which flows from gamblers and into licensed clubs and onwards into your footy team, trickling back to “the community” in the form of cheap chicken parmigiana, footy socks for the kids, and Bob the mini-bus driver who’ll shuttle home punters once they’ve bled their last. Kieran Foran scores on NRL return as Warriors down Titans Read more The money is scarcely believable. Canterbury League Club took $74.9m from gamblers in 2015; Parramatta Leagues Club took $49.9m; Panthers World of Entertainment – run by Panthers Group which also owns pokie palaces in Bathurst, Glenbrook, North Richmond, Port Macquarie and Wallacia – took $65.7m. The Panthers footy club has Phil Gould looking after operations, a crack squad of contenders, and a $20m gymnasium and “centre of excellence”. The grandstand at Belmore Oval looks old, but underneath it’s like sports science Nasa. Parramatta’s team was full of so much loot it had problems complying with NRL laws on spending. Penrith even nearly landed Johnathan Thurston. And the entreaty wasn’t made with a hessian sack full of pineapples. All NRL clubs (and AFL clubs bar North Melbourne and Adelaide) are funded by poker machines. Canberra Raiders have Mounties Group, Cronulla Sharks have Sharkies Leagues. St George-Illawarra Dragons’ leagues club is known as the Taj Mahal. Wests Tigers would cease to exist without money from Matt Wieters Womens Jersey licensed clubs full of pokies. South Sydney Rabbitohs stopped taking money from the pokies in Souths Leagues, instead taking it from those in Jamie Packer’s Star City casino. NRL clubs also take money from their governing body’s broadcasting deal. Otherwise they make their coin where they can. Merchandise, sponsorship, corporate suites, match day tickets. And pokie money is easy money. And it’s stupid-large. The Bulldogs lost $5.4m in 2016. Without the TV money and the pokies they’d be dead as fried chicken. Advertisement Australia has 20% of all the world’s poker machines, and 0.5% of the world’s population. Australians spend a mind-boggling $23bn on gambling each year. Sixty cents of every gambling dollar goes into a poker machine. A lazy $7.6bn is lost by “problem gamblers” in Australia each year. Nearly eight billion dollars. The Australian government’s own “Problem Gambling” website (since replaced with a Department of Social Services site that bemoans gambling revenue lost to online sites based overseas) once said, “500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers; the social cost of problem gambling in Australia is estimated at $4.7bn a year; one in six people who play the pokies regularly has a serious addiction; the actions of one problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of between five and 10 others; and up to five million Australians could be affected by problem gambling each year.” Guardian Australia sport newsletter: subscribe by email Read more In an Inside Sport magazine story from 2016 Clubs Australia CEO Anthony Ball disputed the figures. “The statistics quoted are outdated and incorrect,” he said. “The Institute of Public Affairs assessed these claims and found that the latest data shows a lower figure, about 75,300 problem gamblers.” Ball said that between 75% and 80% of problem gamblers “use electronic gaming machines [poker machines], which reduces the numbers of EGM problem gamblers to between 57,000 and 60,000 people”. He added: “Based on total expenditure on EGMs in Australia, the implied share of spending by problem gamblers would in fact appear to be between 10 and 20%, and not the 41% estimated by the productivity commission.” Anyway, adults can do what they like with their disposable income, can’t they? We’re not a nanny state just yet, are we? We are not. But imagine if heroin Authentic Mark Streit Womens Jersey or crystal meth or the tendrils of terrorism caused as many social ills – and cost as much – as the poker machine. Politicians would have actual fist-fights, scrapping each other to be the first to declare war on this evil scourge. There would be royal commissions and slogans (“Stop The Machines!”) and a host of ever tougher legislation to “crackdown” on the invidious evil. Now, most of those in the club industry and your footy club and your state government do care about people in their community. No-one wants families breaking up and children without shoes, and broke addicts roaming the streets. But my, all that money! Licensed clubs and through them footy clubs (and state governments) are as good as addicted to the rivers of gold pouring from the pokies’ teat. And clubs do try to alleviate the pain their products cause. They say they’re “part of of the solution”. They don’t like the consequences. Who would like them? But they do cop them. They have their platitudes, their nod to legislation. They have “exclusion” and “harm minimisation”. They put ATMs in a different part of the club. They have Salvation Army chaplains and financial counsellors. NRL pay talks going well, says RLPA president Cameron Smith Read more They made former Parramatta Eels captain Nathan Hindmarsh – who once lost $200,000 playing poker machines – an “ambassador” to “help educate and raise awareness of responsible gambling”. So there is all that. And yet still the money rolls in. Because that’s really the most important thing. Do whatever you’ve got to do to appease the lefties and churchies and whoever. Jump through all those hoops. But whatever happens, that spigot must remain open. The money must continue to flow. And these things do benefit the community. Ronald McDonald has a house for sick kids. The Panthers’ annual report has a photo of Phil Gould handing over an over-sized cheque for $5,000 to local fire fighters. Hawthorn has a “philanthropic donation” of $1m over five years to their Indigenous program the Epic Good Foundation. If a kid wants to play rugby league in Sydney’s Souths Juniors competition, they don’t pay for registration, jerseys, shorts and socks. All “free”. Insurance? We’ve got you covered, kid. Taxes on gambling – like those paid by alcohol and nicotine – pay for hospitals, schools and roads of the 21st century. Which is all tremendous. But, again, at what cost? How many families have been bankrupted because dad’s blown the rent in Mega Moolah? How many suicides can be directly attributed to addiction to poker machines? How much depression, how many job losses, how much crime? How many kids http://www.authenticflyerstore.com/authentic-24-matt-read-jersey.html have gone without breakfast so your footy club can own the crack five-eighth or flashy gym? And if mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas hadn’t tipped so much of their income into the poker machines, couldn’t they have just bought the kids the blessed bloody socks? Should your footy club – aspirational and inspirational champion of the community and friend to the battler – be funded by so much misery? Is there really not another way

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