Melbourne Cup: Is it really the race that stuffs a nation?

AH, the Melbourne Cup - the race that stops a nation. Or should that be the race that stuffs a nation?

Gambling on anything that moves has become a national obsession.

Every footy game we watch is flooded with the latest betting agency plugs with special offers that guarantee we can't lose.

Even some schools, it seems, are encouraging their students to bring a gold coin so they can go into a sweep.

One bloke in Sydney posted on Facebook today: "Ahhh Melbourne Cup..not only will I lose my money to a TAB but my son's primary school wants.him to bring.coins so he.can place (a) bet on the Melbourne Cup also... hmmm gamble responsibly?

"Mad… teach the kids while they young eh..

"Do I let him take money to school to place his bet or not and let the other kids tease him for not being able to bet too...ridiculous!"

Another mummy blogger has written a piece defending the Melbourne Cup as an Australian institution, even for kids.

"On Tuesday, my eight-year-old son will have $5 each way in race seven,'' Shauna Anderson writes.

"His six-year-old brother will probably bet to win.

"Their four-year-old sister will likely just do what my eldest does.

"They will cheer on the race when they see it (no public holiday in NSW) and will wallop and whoop for their pick. They will gamble illegally just like hundreds of thousands of other children around Australia.

"And I am okay with that."

Schools across Australia are actually provided with resource kits to teach everything from maths to fashion using the Melbourne Cup as an example.

As one of them says:

"At the end of this unit, students should be able to:

- identify and explain responsible gambling strategies
- explain why judging a horse's chances of winning is an opinion, rather than an objective mathematical judgment - explain some of the traps in claims made about betting systems
- critically evaluate strategies that claim to be responsible gambling strategies."

Wayne Pantall's The Race that Stuffs the Nation offers a contrary view:

"I couldn't give a hoot about the stupid Melbourne Cup.

"The 'Race that stops a nation' is the one that stuffs it up,

"By halting all production, and increasing national debt.

"We've all been on a goose chase, since 'the colt from old Regret'.

"It takes food off the tables, of the kids who need it most,

"as daddy's wages on the nose, get' pipped right at the post'.

"Mothers cry, the children fear, for no rent means 'eviction'.

"Because the Cup day justifies, our gambling addiction.

We can't tell crooks from princes, or princesses from old chooks.

They'll talk a nag up - talk him down - whatever cooks the books.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is the Melbourne Cup just a bit of fun or is it encouraging gambling, even among kids? How much do you normally bet each year?


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