Is pokies reform a powerful, political gamble? For Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, it certainly is, and while the government plucked an ace from the hand it played at last year’s election, the final dice hasn’t yet been rolled and we await the croupier’s (Julia’s new role!) call and the players to collect. And as betting scandals in international cricket and the NRL reflect a gambling malaise deeply entrenched in global culture, sporting codes are acting to restrict betting advertising in venues and media across this country. Too much exposure, too much risk for the gullible gambler! Personally, I find pokies et al a prosaic pastime and Gamblers’ Anonymous would probably reject me as beyond redemption because I’m a gambler of a different kind. As are a lot of us though we pursue our private passions for a punt in our unconscious psyche, betting on a legislation of luck with our lives as we run with risk. We don’t even hedge our bets when we marry or partner, having the 2.4 kids and 2.2 cars with all the promise of paradise that even winning Tattslotto can’t deliver. Love reigns sacrosanct, even though the odds of success in suburbia aren’t encouraging – 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce! But the textured tapestry of our emotions defies economics, often catching us out without even entering a casino. And whoever we lose and reject most of us find someone else, our longing for love (lust in masquerade?) transcending past hurts as we reach for the Real Thing. Hopefully, Lady Luck can land on the right number in one final spin! (Hope springs eternal)
Indeed, as high rollers in relationships, albeit platonic, we flutter on friendship (though sometimes we back the wrong people), engaging in empathy for a reward of riches that don’t belong in a bank. For our careers, we punt on promotion in a race to get to the finish line ahead of the others. Our pedigree is perfect and our track record testimony to our diligence and hard work. But winning sometimes eludes us and we continue to place our bets at other meetings to compete in the main event. Some of us even punt on running our own race in business (who wants to dwell in a cubicle cell block 9-5 with only a machine to converse with?) equipped with no more than a strong sense of self-belief. We gamble on our own talents, trusting in ourselves to challenge chance and good fortune (is there ever a safe bet?)
We might not pour our pay packets into the pokies or lay a bet on the football, but gambling on unpredictable possibilities in life can be inspiring and we rejoice in our judgement. It can also be disappointing, where we lament our losses on a more human level, but nonetheless persist in the game, hoping we’re not dealt the joker in the pack (a bit of bluff goes a long way!) As we traverse the labyrinth of life, we gamble on an endeavour and our humanity without always realising it; a subliminal surrender to the unknown, a precious punt that doesn’t break our bank and recognises gambling as an intrinsic part of the human condition!