Gambling is all well and good as long as the activity isn’t hurting anyone, but when you mix children and gambling together then the likelihood is a heck of a lot of people are going to be rather unhappy. News surfaced last month of a proposed Australian plan to allow clubs that offer gambling machines to literally offer childcare services to members who are glued to the screens of their favorite games. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of anger surrounding the proposal, and it exposes a rather large issue with the childcare system in Australia.
The culprit behind the somewhat divisive idea was Club Australia, a provider of so called ‘pokie palaces’, where customers can come in, play some casino games that are often poker machines (hence the name), and generally have a good time. The Club put a foot wrong, however, when it proposed that customers’ children should come along too, staying in the childcare area of the club whilst parents play and work in the establishment. Why? Because with government budgets slashed by conservative budgetary cutbacks, why not have social services provided by the private sector?
Firstly, kids should be nowhere near gambling dens. Period. Everyone knows that gambling is addictive; not the cleanest of pastimes; but if an adult wants to indulge then go ahead, the activity is fun as long as a gamer’s love for it doesn’t get out of control. The fact is though, gambling is derided by a fair few people, and that leads us on to the second issue.
If gambling companies such as Club Australia tie in childcare to their everyday operations, their activities will, from a legal point of view, be a heck of a lot safer. These companies are very exposed to changes in gambling taxation and political reform, but throw the cosy, un-divisive issue of childcare into the mix, politicians will find it a lot harder to change laws in the unlikely, though scary, event that gambling becomes a widespread social issue.
That’s not all; if companies such as Club Australia decide to open childcare services in their establishments, they’ll be able to receive a load of funds from community schemes in order to subsidise the childcare. Where does this money come from? Companies such as Club Australia, of course; 0.4% of a club’s profits over $1 million go to community projects. Having childcare on site could effectively remove this drain on clubs’ profits. Suddenly the entire escapade appears rather devious and underhanded!
The answer. Gamblers, stop taking your children to gaming clubs; if you really want to play, there’s hundreds of more exciting, cheaper online gambling providers such as RubyFortune.com. This way you get to play on your sofa instead of on a hard plastic chair- who wants that? Next, the Australian government should likely fund child services instead of leaving the provision to the private sector. Time and time again studies show that privatisation of public services offer very few benefits; costs are higher, service is poorer, and the taxpayer is the one who loses out as a result.