No pokies in the Skull Cave

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 9th August 2011.

Many years ago, my cub pack visited our local McDonalds for a “behind the scenes” tour. I’m really not sure what I was supposed to learn from the experience. It certainly didn’t help me get my bronze boomerang. Perhaps Akela felt that sooner or later, I’d either be working there or eating a lot of their burgers, so I might as well get used to the place. Based on what happened to some of my scouting friends later in life, they probably should have taken us on a tour of Parramatta Gaol.

Although there was nothing essentially wrong with taking children on a tour of a fast food joint, I remember thinking that it was a little on the dodgy end of the ethical spectrum.

I had exactly the same feeling when I visited the classy establishment that is Star City this past weekend. Wandering through the casino floor on my way to the high rollers room (apparently the bathrooms there are really nice), I stumbled across a bank of pokies themed on one of my favourite childhood superheroes, The Phantom.

Initially, I was a little excited about the prospect of this. The Phantom, created by Lee Falk in 1936, is a comic full of iconic characters. Who wouldn’t want to play a poker machine populated with images of Diana Palmer, Guran, Devil, Hero, the Skull Ring, and the distinctive purple costume of The Ghost Who Walks?

Hold on. Isn’t The Phantom supposed to be fighting bandits, not the subject of a one armed bandit? As the Guardian of the Eastern Dark, Kit Walker fights for truth, justice and the Bengallan way (or something like that). He represents jungle justice and will fight for the rights of the native people, animals, eco-system and the occasional stegosaurus. I’m pretty sure that scatters, double ups and features aren’t a part of The Phantom’s ethical vocabulary.

Let’s face it. The King and Queen of the Nile and Big Red the kangaroo probably wouldn’t have a problem being associated with gambling. Neither would the turtles, sea horses and starfish from Turtle Treasure. If there is no smoking allowed in the Skull Cave then surely The Man Who Cannot Die would object to an RSL packed with pokies installed next to his throne?

I know I’m being facetious but to a comic fan, this is almost the same as encouraging punters to try their luck on a Ghandi’s Gold or a Dalai Lama-Rama pokie.

If you’re going to theme pokies with popular properties, characters and personalities then I have a few suggestions. How about Abba’s Money, Money Money Machine or Scrooge McDuck’s Speck-quack-ular Slots? If you like a flutter, you won’t be able to resist the flashing lights of Ritchie Rich’s Retirement Fund, Daddy Warbucks’ Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Will You Eat Tomorrow or Mr Burns’ Springfield Millions Meltdown. You know you want to put your hard earned dollars in Charlie Sheen’s Winning.

In the end, I couldn’t stop myself from trying my luck with a twenty dollar bet. Sure enough, The Phantom stole my money and I wasn’t allowed in the high rollers room. I shouldn’t have trusted The Ghost Who Walks Away With Your Money.

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Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 09:11  Leave a Comment  
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