It’s 11pm at a Coffs Harbour sports club. The lone gambler is $400 down and still waiting for the feature.
This particular poker machine, The King of the Nile (pictured), is his favourite. When the coveted 15-free-games feature appears – all too infrequently – any winnings are trebled. Even better, this machine gives him a second chance if the original prize is a meager one.
Problem is he is so far down the gurgler by now that he would need a whopping payback to get anywhere near break-even. Every crisp $50 note he pumps into the slot carries with it an increasingly feverish hope of redemption. And when that has gone, he can replenish his supply of notes from the auto-teller at the door.
Reflecting between spins, he knows this session will end badly, as so many have. It is just a question of how badly....