Tingle: Australian Underbelly History and the Anti Pokie Song

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:
Dec/31/2010

Happy New Year punters, casino and gambling millionaires, billionaires, entertainment news junkies, insiders, outsiders, politicians, journalists and everyone else. We've started off with a bang tracking the history of real life 'Underbelly' in 'Sin City' Sydney and well as even getting a bit of a scoop on an anti pokies song by one of Australia's foremost musicians. Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com and Gambling911 help you get the new year started right with some fair dinkum Aussie fodder from the land down under...

Real Life Underbelly: A Dark Side Of Australia's History To Be Jackpot For Network Nine...

Crime TV fans and gambling nuts have been calling on it for about a year now, but they won't have to wait much longer - more 'Underbelly' TV is about to hit, and it even includes some of the glory days from circa 1920, including a few of the vice queens, casino queens, poker queen bees, and you get the idea.

You might have heard of the Roberta Williams babe of the crime scene in Melbourne, but they were many more female vice types before she become a household name in Australia a couple of years ago.

Lovers of femme fatale are going to wet themselves as they check out Sydney's famed "vice queens" Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh.

Production is set to rock n roll on Underbelly: Razor in January (2011 - that's right). These vice babes were running the dark side of 'Sin City' Sydney for over four decades.

You will love the costume make ups with fur coats, gold, diamonds, cash filled pockets, and are you getting the picture folks. Devine and Leigh wrestled with the biggest, baddest and most cunning (so to speak) for domination of the mean streets of 'Sin City' Sydney, with hit men and bodyguards, cloak and dagger types ready to risk there balls er lives... for the women they served, morning, noon at night.

The casting for the 4th version of 'Underbelly' is set to start in roughly a week and the gig has a track record of making stars of those who appear, so ladies (and gents), find your inner gangster and give it your best shot. The bloke who have done well in recent history including Gyton Grantley (as Carl Williams), Firass Dirani (as John Ibrahim) and Media Man's own John 'Vulcan' Seru as 'Kiwi Steve.

#4 will be primarily based on the book Razor by well respected writer Larry Writer. As the name suggests it will cover in graphic detail that "razor gang feuds" that hit Sydney's Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, and Surry Hills, with the occasional odd job ending up at Bondi Beach, Maroubra Beach, Palm Beach and wherever else a car boot load sometimes took the bodies.

The razor gangs got their title after pistol licensing laws saw jail terms com in for concealing a gun, so criminal types made the switcharoo to carrying blades.

Brothels were a great starting point for Devine whose establishments did a roaring trade. Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, was HQ for the sex and hubby "Big Jim" working out of the Tradesman's Arms, a notorious "bloodhouse" these days trading as the hip East Village pub.

Leigh, of Devonshire St, Surry Hills, cemented her rep the queen be of sly (illegal) drink. Illegal, because after 6pm the law said no to legal sales, but that's when she made a killing... when people wanted it, and would pay well for their vice.

Now get this. A punter could gain entry to her drinking pots by popping the question "Oh, is Mum in?".

Devine got arrested at least 204 times and the story goes Leigh ordered the murder of countless rivals.

Birdies tell us the TV drama will build towards their most violent war...a riot that ran rough shot over Kellett St, Kings Cross on the 9th August 1929.

The TV series is predicted to surge a new interest in their underworld parts, and cool Darlinghurst wine bar Love, Tilly Devine looks poised to cash in on publicity, financially, or both.

Casino Canberra Wants Bigger and Better Pokie Deal...

Casino Canberra is making more noise about wanting its Xmas wish of 200 poker machines, with their marketing director Peter Cursley going on record with the region top getting "hung up" on numbers. The ACT has more one armed bandits per head of population than any other Australian state or territory. They are king! A report by the Gambling and Racing Commish found the number of ACT adults participating in gambling had dropped from 72.9% in 2001 to 69.8% in 2009. The number who played pokies dropped from 38.1p% in 2001 to 30.2%. Pokies remain a game of preference for punters young and old, both in land based venues and online. When Casino Canberra opened for business two decades ago, it apparently did so on the understanding that it operate no machines, and be the only casino in Australia not to operate them. Cursley advised this provision became "redundant from day one". We are yet to get to the bottom of this but are investigating further. In its submission to the ACT Government's tax review, the casino said it desired to utilize machine licences held by the Government in surplus. Now, just 3 weeks back, Gaming and Racing Minister Andrew Barr announced he would remove those licences from circulation in a bid to further curb problem gambling. "The bottom line is we want 200 machines and we're prepared to pay," Cursley said. "We don't care where they come from." He said valuable business opportunities were being lost by the long-term ban on poker machines at the venue. It's a move and public stance bound to add fuel to the fire re anti-gambling groups, the casino says the arrangement would benefit the community, contributing $10 million in one-off licence fee revenue to the Government. It would in addition contribute 30% in gross gaming revenue tax, which would deliver an annual revenue stream of about $4 million to the ACT Government. The casino was also prepared to go on record that it would employ 20 new staff members which would contribute roughly $60,000 in payroll tax to the Government's account each year. Will money talk, as the AC/DC song goes? Cleopatra, Sinatra, Monopoly Black Rhino, Where's The Gold, Top Gun and Mission: Impossible are understood to be some of the pokie titles Casino Canberra is keen to get its hands on.

Aussie Singer-Songwriter Legend Tim Freedman to Perform Anti-Pokie Anthem Number; Government Plays Emotive Card...

The Whitlams front man Tim Freedman enjoys performing in Canberra, a pokie hotspot from way back when. Freedman wrote the smash hit 'Blow Up The Pokies' in response to a mates gambling problem and says the Federal Government is finally moving forward on the case of gambling addiction in Australia.

Last night Australian fans got to enjoy 2 x 45-minute sets featuring a medley of the band's best loved songs, including the anti-gambling anthem. Civic Square was the stage to add an interesting x factor into the Government's campaign. Freedman advised the band would time the last song of the last set to segue into a fireworks display... you know, New Years Eva and all.

The singer-songwriter was pretty surprised to learn the ACT beat NSW for the highest number of pokies machines per capita. The ACT has all told 5155 gaming machines - that's one pokie for every 68 people! The Aussie average is 1 machine for every 110 folks.

The performer was happy to share some of his thoughts on pokies..."The clubs jumping up and down about gamblers presetting their gambling limits is ridiculous. I agree with the new proposals, in that they are not affecting the recreational gambler. I personally don't think they are going far enough, but at least they are going in the right direction."

But Freedman is dismissive of his anti-pokies message.

"I just wrote the song. I haven't been involved in the front line battle like Senator Nick Xenophon, he's done the hard yards I just wrote a few rhyming couplets about 12 years ago."

Folks, its going to be interesting to see how the clubs VS Australian government pokies war plays out. So, 'Mr X' now has a performing artist on side. Might Clubs Australia and Clubs NSW play the same card, or opt for something a tad more wild. We say expect the unexpected, and a good does of people power.

Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? How did you see in the new year? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

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