Wednesday, 22 May 2013 18:31

Is It The Governent's Responsibility?

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If we all agree all of the time what is the purpose of all of us being here? You will agree or disagree with the following and that is good because you have the free choice to do so. Many will be aware that there is currently a high concern about online betting and gambling. Governments around the world are trying to gain some degree of control over what is acceptable and what is harmful to their citizens when it comes to what many consider could be a problem to family life and their communities.

Australia is one of those countries. It is a well known fact that most Australians love to have a bet. Sports betting is at a peak with a wide range of betting choices available. Other forms of gambling are also well received with poker machines (known as slot machines in the USA) in Australian clubs and pubs. There are also many lottery and scratch card games available each week.

The arrival of online betting has caused a problem for the Australian government in that they are unable to come to a final agreement on what is acceptable and what should be restricted (or even banned) for Australian citizens.

As it currently stands it is illegal to promote or provide access to games of chance (such as poker and casino games) to Australian citizens. It is admissible to provide access to online sports betting (as an example - Gambling Australia - Australian Sports Betting).

The dilemma to the government is three sided.

There are the 'wholesome, sensible' citizens who believe that online gambling has created more problem gamblers and family problems. They state that the availability of online gambling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has created an environment where those that like to bet or play games online have a better chance of becoming problem gamblers. They would like to see all online gambling sites blocked by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and large criminal penalties imposed on anyone breaking the law.

Then there are the providers of the betting facilities and those that prefer to have a choice in which activities they participate. They argue that there is not a case that more people become problem gamblers because they can access online betting facilities. Their argument is based on the fact that most gambling occurs in clubs and pubs where the 'Pokie Zombies' gather each day to stare at a machine which has already decided whether they are going to win or not, even before they put their first coin in the slot. Providers of online sports betting argue that they have put in place options and restrictions that allow potential problem gamblers to limit their betting or opt out when they get to a set limit. They monitor the accounts of punters for patterns of problem gambling and take appropriate action when a problem gambler is detected. That this is not the case with poker machines in clubs and pubs or even in casinos.

Then there is the government who are caught in the crossfire.

Why does this cause a problem for them? Firstly they need to consider the implications of an increase of problem gamblers. Should they allow the citizens their democratic right to choose what they do with their own hard earned cash and risk social problems, which will ultimately lead to a cost on Australian society? Do they play 'Nanny' (as they often do) and tell the people what they can and cannot access without being fully able to control the access?

Secondly there are the tax benefits that could be derived from allowing the establishment of Australian online casinos and poker sites. At present there are no Australian sites that provide these options. Has this stopped Australians from betting on sites that do provide these games? Not at all. Although Australian law states that the operators of casino and poker sites must not accept Australian players, Australians are accepted as players and place their bets on foreign sites (which are sometimes unregulated by any form of responsible government) using their credit cards. What this means to Australia is lost revenue, both in the export of our currency and loss of potential taxes from regulated Australian companies who could provide these services.

A recent review of the current Australian Interactive Gambling Act included a recommendation that Australia should relax the laws restricting online betting and allow the establishment of Australian regulated sites that could provide poker games. Why poker? The reason for this is that poker is not a game of chance but requires a level of skill to win. That it does not involve gamblers placing bets at a fast pace, such as would be seen with casino style games or poker machines. The other reason is the potential for tax revenue and retention of our currency.

Australia currently has an international reputation as a 'Nanny' country. This can be a good thing in some areas but does interfere with the democratic process of 'freedom of choice'. The current policy on Interactive Gambling is only one case of curtailing the choice of Australians. The stance on this issue, in my opinion, is flawed.

The fact is we should accept that there are always going to be gamblers, both sensible and problematic, and we should prepare our children for exposure to gambling, just like we prepare them for exposure to the sun. This will lead to an eventual decrease in problem gambling in the future and provide our children with the self-discipline that is so important in all aspects of life.

You may have read the following in a previous comment I made on Blog Australia but I am going to repeat it here for the sake of you, the reader, understanding what I mean by education.

My father was a bookmaker for many years and we spent many hours as a family at horse races and other racing events. During that time I was instructed by my father on the 'evils of gambling'. You may find that a contradiction with him being a bookmaker and taking bets from punters but what he taught me has been a valuable lesson.

He was referring to was 'UNCONTROLLED GAMBLING' where the punter had no concept or education on how to minimise losses through using a betting system or managing their finances. He pointed out individuals who were at the track every week and lost every week, except on very rare occasions. These individuals has no self-discipline. You could tell it by the way they dressed and the fact that few of them were physically clean.

He taught me self-discipline and control over my finances. He took me to races with the sole purpose of instructing me in the use of my own 'betting bank'. He was, and still is, a winner and a champion to me for teaching me these lessons. The lessons learned did not just extend to having a bet, but on how to control all that was controllable in my own life. To master my own urges and thoughts every day so that the outcome would, in the majority of cases, be positive. He taught me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I could and to have the wisdom to know the difference. You may have read that yourself somewhere else.

My point is that only through proper education at a young age can social problems be solved. Placing restrictions on adults who have developed lifetime habits is shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. The Australian government need to look towards the children rather than restricting adults who will always find a way to get around the system.

Teaching children discipline does not entail hitting them or forcing them to do what they are told. It involves instructing them the importance of SELF-DISCIPLINE. Teach them SELF-RESPECT and INTEGRITY. Most of all set a good example for them. Start there and the future for Australian society (and the rest of the world) is a lot brighter than it appears at the moment.

It is not the government's responsibility to teach our children everything. Parents need to provide a good example and education to their children. Unfortunately some parents leave this up to the government, which leads to the government assuming that all parents are doing the same.

All comments, opinions, criticism and observations welcome.

Read 4091 times Last modified on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 23:12
Mike Burgess

I like to blog because it makes sense to have a voice.
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