Sydney Harbour “giant gambling den” bullshit reportage

Map showing "giant gambling den in relation to Sydney Harbour: click to embiggen“Is A Billionaire Former Scientologist Shaping Sydney Harbour Into A Giant Gambling Den?”, asked the headline in an email this morning from The Global Mail. Is he? Let’s see!

The story in TGM, the philanthropic media project of Graeme Wood, also a key investor in The Guardian’s forthcoming Australian edition, is obviously about plans by James Packer to build a casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo development.

The proposal is controversial, certainly. But Sydney Harbour becoming a “giant gambling den”? FFS! If it’s not immediately obvious why this is complete bullshit, I’ve drawn a picture for you. A special kind of picture called a “map”.

The black bit is Sydney Harbour, traced from Google Maps. The red bit is the entire proposed casino complex, assuming this report in the Sydney Morning Herald is still roughly correct. You might have to click through to the full-size map to see the red bit.

Sydney Harbour is clearly not becoming a “giant gambling den”. Sydney Harbour will be changed in a way that will be barely noticeable, at least if your global perspective manages to make it any further west than Glebe Point Road. And I’d have thought that the intelligent, well-educated people at TGM would be able to figure that out for themselves.

We were told that The Global Mail was about “quality journalism”, but apparently it’s just another in a long series of comfortable colour supplements for Sydney’s whining middle class, with bonus points for waving the good ol’ Scientology scare-stick.

The story itself is by Nick Bryant, whose work I like. He’s got a biography of Packer coming out, so I assume the article — which I haven’t read yet — is an extract from that book and somewhat better than the promotion it’s been burdened with suggests. I’ll let you know once I’ve read it.

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  1. Frew’s avatar

    I thought Sydney was already a giant gambling den with what was in 2002, 10% of the world’s pokies. (According to the oft quoted statistic, which I was unable to find to link to) One more den wont be noticed.

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  2. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Frew: That “10% of the world’s pokie machines are in Sydney” figure sounds suspect to me. The population of Sydney is around 4 million. The population of the US, which also has casinos, is $300 million. Plus Europe? China? Maybe the number was true in 2002, before the Asian and South-East Asian casino boom, but my gut says it’s wrong now. That’s all out of my area of expertise and interest, though, so I probably won’t do any research myself.

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  3. mr. mike’s avatar

    Two facts: Nobody in the press likes Scientology thanks to the “church” policies of “threaten to sue `em `till they go away” and “always have private investigators tail them/film them.”

    Second, gambling always riles up the homeowners because they don’t want to deal with the late-night crowd, the possible ties to organized crime, etc.

    So when an ex-Scientologist opens a casino, BLAM! perfect story.

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