By Ian Neubauer
A community group dedicated to reform of the poker machine sector will stage a protest and march at Sydney’s Darling Harbour on Sunday to coincide with the launch of the Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE).
Duty of Care’s ‘Silent Scream March’ will see protestors don masks bearing a likeness to the protagonist in Edvard Munch’s existential masterpiece The Scream to give people who the group reckons might otherwise be wary of exposing themselves the opportunity to show disapproval.
Duty of Care said the protest aims to highlight “the hidden nature of pokies’ harm, the shaming and blaming of gamblers, the abject failure of gaming machine manufacturers to design a safe product, and the abject failure of gaming machine manufacturers to design a safe product”.
Finance sector employee Richard Wolff said he and many of others who intend to protest on Sunday are not advocating the eradication of poker machines but for the introduction of mandatory Smart Cards.
“I am not an extremist. I say keep the pokies, just make them safer to avoid addiction developing as best as possible and give the families of pokie players some chance to beat the odds of losing it all,” he said. “In the same way that seat belts save lives, modifying the pokies would reduce addiction. So smart cards are the main argument we have.”
Smart cards are ATM-like cards with in-built microchips that are swiped into smart card readers attached to poker machines. Under the Poker Machine Harm Minimisation Bill 2008, the card would restrict players to a $1000 fortnightly spend and allow a maximum playing time of 10 hours in the period.
For more information on the Silent Scream March email firstname.lastname@example.org.