My parents are down in Sydney tonight to watch a production of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show", so they invited me out to tea before the show started. 'Twas good to catch up with them, but I must admit that I really hate Star City. I mean, hate it with a passion. To see people literally throwing their money away in the pursuit of that big win is too depressing for words. The fact that everything is glitzy and glamourous only makes it worse. The fact is, behind all that glitz and glamour, there are countless people in Australia who have a gambling related problem, many of whom cannot afford it. And what's worse, casinos like Star City deliberately prey on their victims to suck as much blood from them as they can. After all, it's not them who have to clean up the mess, is it?
I guess the rationale for legalised gambling is that people should be free to do what they like with their money, including pissing it away. That said, surely casinos have a responsibility not to exploit the desperation of gambling addicts? But this is precisely what they do, with lights and noises of the poker machines and with the image that is promoted of the casino. Advertisements show good looking guys and girls shrieking in almost orgasmic delight as they score another win over the house. Imagine if like on cigarette packets, they were forced to show the reality behind the facade? Pained expressions of losing one's paycheck, children going without food because the money was gone, people at the end of their rope thinking about taking their lives. It wouldn't be a very strong selling point would it?
I must admit, I don't really know what the answer is to this societal cancer. It seems like the job of many agencies seems to be to help someone to pick up the pieces after someone have destroyed their life. It would be good to think that there is something that can be done before the situation gets that bad, but I guess that it is only when people hit rock bottom that they finally seek help. Regardless, we should recognise all too clearly that this is not an individual problem, but a problem that affects our entire society. In that respect, surely it is in our interests to do something to stop the rot further?