Liberal MP Robin Cooper's suggestion to roll-back the pokies is an investment (The Age, 26/5). Sure, it'll cost the Victorian Budget $1.4B a year, but we need to ask: is this a sustainable, equitable and responsible source of tax anyway? At the very least each dollar raised should cost us - in the broadest sense - less than a dollar in the long run. Does it?
How much of that revenue came from embezzlement and crime? From how many family breakdowns, suicides and collapsed businesses? How much extra (unmet) demand was placed on our social and community services? Centrelink payments make up around 10% of our GDP - I'd wager it makes up more than 10% of pokies revenue. How is "laundering" welfare through the private sector a sensible mechanism for State/Commonwealth funding?
Importantly, how will questions about the net worth of pokies be answered without an independent gambling research panel?