PGF suing to keep its nose in the trough

May 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Problem Foundation will this week take legal action to stop the Ministry of Health dumping it in favour of the Salvation Army.

The move comes as papers released under the Official Information Act show the PGF and the ministry embroiled in a long-running argument over the foundation’s right to speak out on gambling issues. It includes the ministry threatening to terminate the foundation’s contract if PGF didn’t halt a campaign called “pokie free and proud of it” promoting pokie-free pubs. The PGF has engaged Wellington lawyer Mai Chen to act for it.

So the PGF will use its existing taxpayer funding to try and force the Government to keep funding it – rather than the Salvation Army (which was judged better by an independent panel of public servants and experts).

The PGF has always been a vocal critic of pokie machine rorts and gambling harm. It believes, as an independent body with other income streams, it has the right to speak out. The ministry argues there should be no perception government money is being spent on campaigns.

The ministry fielded a series of complaints between 2010 and 2012 from Martin Cheer, chief executive of pokie trusts, Pub Charity, that PGF was “abusing the funding stream” and was not politically neutral. Cheer wrote to Dunne saying: “We would welcome any attention you could bring to bear on this matter.” Cheer was unable to comment. But an industry source said PGF had “not just shot themselves in the foot but blown it off” by not concentrating on their core work.

If the PGF was not overwhelming funded by the Government, then it could campaign for whatever it wants. In fact it should welcome losing the contract, because it frees itself up to be an advocate. They claim that they never spent government funds on their lobbying – so ipso facto the loss of the government funds can’t impact their lobbying.

The PGF was a partisan lobbyist. Their founder is the husband of a Green MP. Their campaigns manager is standing for Labour. Their original lawyer was a Labour Party office holder. Their just retired chairman is a former Labour MP. The Salvation Army also speak out on gambling issues – but they don’t make that the major focus of their work.

Less than 1% of their funding is from private donations. Just $3,143 out of $5.04 million. So the lawsuit is inevitably being funded by taxpayers to try and force us to keep funding them.

 

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52 Responses to “PGF suing to keep its nose in the trough”

  1. Judith (7,553 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  2. Chris2 (754 comments) says:

    The PGF could not even stop its own CEO from gambling. How can we have any trust in them stopping anyone else from gambling?

    Older readers will recall that in 2002 their CEO resigned after a quarter million dollars was withdrawn on his PGF credit card, a lot of it in cash, gambled away at Sky City casino.

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  3. DisgruntledOne (20 comments) says:

    Chris – as funny as that is, it does not have any relevance, unless the CEO was actually a recipient of PGF’s services. Even then, he should not be weighted more than any other failure, and so should be examined as a statistic, not an anecdote.
    They once had a CEO with a gambling problem – no more, no less.

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  4. ChardonnayGuy (1,131 comments) says:

    Nevertheless, the organisation in question was established to deal with what is a recognised addiction, according to the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. And unfortunately, the Salvos may have problems dealing with certain client categories, who have good reasons to distrust them given past and present SA policies. Added to which, I’m leery of delegating government funds to religious organisations unless they respect faith/state separation and spend the money strictly on service provision.

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  5. peterwn (3,150 comments) says:

    The PGF will be seeking an injunction to start with and I fear on the ‘balance of convenience’ test it may well succeed. This is on the basis that the loss of the contract means virtual annihilation for the PGF, but neither the government nor the Sallies would be that inconvenienced. This would give PGF a breather up to the election when hopefully a Labour/ Green government will ‘settle’ out of court in PGF’s favour thus seeing their political cronies right.

    Perhaps Jordan Williams and his taxpayers’ union should seek intervenor status in the case on behalf of the long suffering taxpayer.

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  6. DisgruntledOne (20 comments) says:

    “The PGF was a partisan lobbyist.”
    That actually does not matter. Their job was to help problem gamblers. Since actions of the Government can affect that job significantly, some of their job must be to lobby. As it happens, the views of someone concerned about gambling would be more aligned with the left, and therefore, someone whose views are aligned with the left is more likely to be someone who is concerned with problem gambling. So with regard to this:
    ” Their founder is the husband of a Green MP. Their campaigns manager is standing for Labour. Their original lawyer was a Labour Party office holder. Their just retired chairman is a former Labour MP. ”
    Please attack their specific positions, not who they are. You have a point if, and only if, the PGF engaged in political work that was unrelated to gambling.

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  7. DisgruntledOne (20 comments) says:

    “which was judged better by an independent panel of public servants and experts”
    Independent people can still be wrong. I’m not entirely sure on this point, but as I understand it, the salvation army was almost as shocked as the PGF.
    EDIT – ChardonnayGuy seems to be better informed than me. So yes, there are reasons that the PGF was a better service provider.

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  8. Manolo (13,341 comments) says:

    Nothing less can be expected from the PGF, home of wowsers Labour and Green Party supporters.
    They are troughers by nature and will fight any attempt to be removed from the state’s teat.

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  9. David Farrar (1,853 comments) says:

    Judith – lobby groups should be funded by their members and supporters, not the taxpayer. It’s simple.

    They were not dropped because of their officers. They lost a contestable contract to an organisation that presumably will spend more time on actually helping problem gamblers, rather than running PR campaigns.

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  10. mikenmild (10,644 comments) says:

    ‘They were not dropped because of their officers.’
    No, you just attacked them because of their officers…

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  11. tvb (4,200 comments) says:

    Government funding for organisations that are running political campaigns on behalf of the Labour Party, is state funding for political activity through the back door. PGF have become a PAC conducting campaigns that are politically useful for the Labour Party. People like Tony Milne simply cannot see why state funding should not be used for this purpose. If Milne thought these causes are hot why cannot he get funding from other sources for the campaigns like the Unions for instance. Milne is one of these people who knows how to spend money usually on causes that are central to his political agenda but have little relationship to where the source of funding is coming from.

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  12. big bruv (13,249 comments) says:

    “Their founder is the husband of a Green MP”

    Who is this MP?

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  13. Judith (7,553 comments) says:

    @ David Farrar (1,820 comments) says:
    May 18th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    That may be so David, but your article above states the very thing that PGF are complaining about. That it is the aspect that their left supporters/employees had some influence on the government awarding the contracts elsewhere. In short, you have shown that their argument is a valid one, or at least, one that is perceived by others to be an issue. Clearly you think it matters – all PGF needs to do is prove it mattered to the government (Dunne) as well.

    If PGF can show that other funding that they received paid for their campaigns, then they have a good point regarding the cancellation of their contract – especially considering the conditions in which the Salvation Army came to get it.

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  14. Judith (7,553 comments) says:

    “Their founder is the husband of a Green MP”

    So, the spouses of MP’s do matter in some cases then?

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  15. thedavincimode (6,530 comments) says:

    So because the foundations of the organisation are heavily dominated by left supporters, they should cease to exist?

    Jesus H on a trike nursey; just how thick are you?

    The points in the post were:

    this

    So the PGF will use its existing taxpayer funding to try and force the Government to keep funding it – rather than the Salvation Army (which was judged better by an independent panel of public servants and experts).

    this

    If the PGF was not overwhelming funded by the Government, then it could campaign for whatever it wants.

    and this

    Less than 1% of their funding is from private donations. Just $3,143 out of $5.04 million. So the lawsuit is inevitably being funded by taxpayers to try and force us to keep funding them.

    Only a complete fuckwit could arrive at your inference . And you did.

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  16. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    bb – Denise Roche’s partner is a former head of the PGF. Roche has been very critical of the loss of funding, speaking as Green MP.

    PGF has always been highly political. (John) Stansfield’s partner is Green MP Denise Roche and his media adviser was ex-Green MP Sue Bradford’s husband, Bill Bradford. Ramsey, the current chief executive, is a Northland regional councillor. The board is chaired by former Labour MP Richard Northey.

    The agency’s public health director Tony Milne is Labour’s candidate for Christchurch Central.

    http://www.joholmes.com/blog/problem-gambling-foundation-accused-of-antagonistic-approach

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  17. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    The PGF, anti booze, anti smoking, etc groups attract those who are not primarily concerned about the welfare of people, but want power and control over people. There is a big difference and until you understand that, the stance of such groups will never make sense to you.

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  18. big bruv (13,249 comments) says:

    PG

    There is Green party MP called Denise Roche?

    Never heard of her.

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  19. freemark (436 comments) says:

    Roach and her partner/husband have other addiction problems…the addiction to tax & ratepayer funding of their Vile Watermelon Ideology & lives.

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  20. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    https://www.greens.org.nz/people/deniseroche

    The Government needs to urgently reconsider its decision to cut funding to the Problem Gambling Foundation, Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche said today.

    https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/problem-gambling-foundation-persecuted-national-skycity-stance

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  21. mikenmild (10,644 comments) says:

    The title of this post is a little off, too. Does anyone really believe that the PGF is ‘troughing’ in some way? Seems to me the objections to their work centre around the efficacy of their advocacy, not any misuse of funds.

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  22. OneTrack (2,589 comments) says:

    As long as they can hang on to their funding until September 20, then they can continue campaigning and when the Green/ManaIP/Winston/Labour government comes in, they are safe and can stay in the trough forever. No wonder they are fighting so hard.

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  23. big bruv (13,249 comments) says:

    Why has Roach not been forced to resign her list seat over this?

    Roach cannot advocate for the PGF and be an MP and a prospective member of the next government, this is another example of the rank hypocrisy of the stinking Greens.

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  24. MT_Tinman (2,985 comments) says:

    Judith (6,103 comments) says:
    May 18th, 2014 at 11:05 am
    So because the foundations of the organisation are heavily dominated by left supporters, they should cease to exist?

    Yes!

    The sooner the better for the good of all mankind.

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  25. OneTrack (2,589 comments) says:

    big bruv, you know why as well as everybody else does – it’s ok when the left does it. Just ask John Campbell.

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  26. freemark (436 comments) says:

    I suspect when the ongoing investigation into Electoral Fraud at the Waiheke LB Elections is complete (pretty close to the General Election at a guess) resigning a list seat may be the least of the concerns for Green MP Roach, and a few connected people on Waiheke. There will be a few other LB & Council Elections run by Postal Voting that will need to be scrutinised as well . Sunlight will be cast on Socialist tactics soon enough, not before time.

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  27. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    The Government needs to urgently reconsider its decision to cut funding to the Problem Gambling Foundation, Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche said today.

    Then some serious questions need to asked about conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise. If it’s good enough for Collins, it;s good enough for this Roche person, whoever she is.

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  28. freemark (436 comments) says:

    Who is John Campbell..oh, is he that PR guy for the Left & DotCon?

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  29. Judith (7,553 comments) says:

    @ big bruv (12,453 comments) says:
    May 18th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Roches husband is no longer employed by the community organisation. An organisation that handles social issues, not just something like a business that exports dairy products. If he was still employed, perhaps as a director or such, and it was an exporting business with shareholders which would benefit by her promoting it, then maybe it would be an issue – but certainly not for National – they don’t mind that sort of thing, at all! :-)

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  30. peterwn (3,150 comments) says:

    I wondered why PGF left it so long to consider legal action. I now realise the key was to seek an injunction sufficiently early that the Sallies would arguably have sufficient time to unwind arrangements for taking over the contract, but with insufficient time for a substantive hearing and decision before election day. Hope that the Crown lawyer can get this across to the judge as one reason not to grant an injunction.

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  31. Elaycee (4,300 comments) says:

    Martin Cheer (Pub Charity) is one of many industry people to express similar concerns – for years, the PGF has operated under an aura of total ‘entitleitis’ and instead of concentrating on the core activity of providing assistance to the 3% of our population who ‘have a problem’ with gambling, the PGF became a politically motivated lobbyist. Anyone who has any doubt, should compare the Gween policy on gambling and the various articles produced by the PGF… no coincidence – they are very similar! And yes, BB – the partner of the (former) CEO of the PGF, is Gween List MP Denise Roche. (But her partner was not the CEO who took money and gambled it away!)

    It came as no surprise the PGF was dumped and there is widespread industry acceptance the Salvation Army would do a better job. And no surprises either, the loudest screeches since this decision, have come from those with a vested interest – including those who would lose PGF contracts for ‘provision of services’…

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  32. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    I think you people need to understand that tax payers money IS for leftist political movements to use advancing leftist political movements. If you don’t think this is the way it should be then please leave NZ now !

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  33. Fentex (860 comments) says:

    (which was judged better by an independent panel of public servants and experts).

    For a contract it did not seek. It’s rather obvious it was active displeasure with the PGF that drove the decision rather than calm reappraisal of a due contract.

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  34. ross411 (220 comments) says:

    Judith (6,111 comments) says:
    May 18th, 2014 at 12:37 pm
    “Their founder is the husband of a Green MP”

    So, the spouses of MP’s do matter in some cases then?

    The die hard Labour supporters, like yourself, always seem to isolate some point ignoring the rest, and then try and suggest the part they isolated is not true in and of itself.

    All of the Ora Vida board was not married to Judith Collins. Comparatively, PGF is riddled with opposition MPs who lobby and do not focus on what they are paid to do.

    Your posts have shown an inability to be objective when it comes to PGF. Do you have some stake in it? Are you, or is someone you know employed by it (or were you)?

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  35. ross411 (220 comments) says:

    DisgruntledOne (5 comments) says:
    May 18th, 2014 at 11:21 am
    Chris – as funny as that is, it does not have any relevance, unless the CEO was actually a recipient of PGF’s services. Even then, he should not be weighted more than any other failure, and so should be examined as a statistic, not an anecdote.
    They once had a CEO with a gambling problem – no more, no less.

    Yes, yes, look over here. Ignore that there’s some relation between this and that. Viewed in isolation setting aside the other bits, this here bit has nothing to do with the other bits. Yeah, right. Do you even read what you post?

    Your posts have shown an inability to be objective when it comes to PGF. Do you have some stake in it? Are you, or is someone you know employed by it (or were you)?

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  36. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    It is right to use tax layers money in legal proceedings seeking preferential access to tax payers money. move on.

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  37. OneTrack (2,589 comments) says:

    burt – Just as well. Otherwise the government might waste that money on hospitals or schools. You didn’t need that operation anyway. And the lawyers needed new BMWs.

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  38. DisgruntledOne (20 comments) says:

    “Your posts have shown an inability to be objective when it comes to PGF. Do you have some stake in it? Are you, or is someone you know employed by it (or were you)?”

    The word ‘objective’ does not mean ‘neutral’. It means that you appraise the evidence in an unbiased manner in order to reach your opinion. Unfortunately, no-one is truly objective (because of cognitive dissonance and other psychological issues) but I, for one, try my best. And no, I do not have any sort of stake in PGF.

    As to my point, do you disagree that it is possible for someone to have a gambling problem, and yet still be able to run an organisation whose end objective is to help problem gamblers. Because I do not see how the end objective actually affects the type of work that a CEO has to do.

    Also, that is moot, since the CEO resigned in 2002.

    By the way, how do I use the quoting function in the comments?

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  39. slijmbal (1,211 comments) says:

    There’s a lot of misinformation on this

    The PGF were aware that the contract was at risk and stated so in their Annual Report from memory. The Sallie Army did apply for the contract.

    Most importantly, they are using public funds for political lobbying a no-no for such a body.

    On a side note gambling spend on identified NZ based gambling (ie not illegal or internet) has remained ultimately flat for about 10 years. During that time effectively Lotteries has increased by approx $200m and the pokies decreased by a similar amount. They’re about 40% of identified spend followed by Casinos on 25%, Lotteries on 20% and the nags about 15%. Based on that removing pokies appears ineffective as the gambling just moves to another mechanism. What a surprise.

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  40. publicwatchdog (2,099 comments) says:

    Are Kiwibloggers aware that the Salvation Army (and the City Mission) are members of the VERY powerful private lobby group – the Committee for Auckland?

    http://www.committeeforauckland.co.nz/membership/member-organisations

    “The Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/

    Gosh!

    Look who else is a member company of the VERY powerful private lobby group – the Committee for Auckland?

    “SkyCity Entertainment Group http://www.skycity.co.nz

    Fancy that …………

    Penny Bright

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  41. freemark (436 comments) says:

    Are Kiwibloggers aware that Penny Bright ran for Mayor and could have influenced Council decisions over her rates theft? rates?
    Are Kiwibloggers aware of who exactly funds Penny Bright’s campaigning & advocacy?
    Are Kiwibloggers aware that people starved & froze to death in NZ who could have eaten & kept warm with the amount she is stealing from ratepayers?
    Are Kiwibloggers aware that with Penny Bright’s background & experience she could be training youth to be well paid productive kiwis?
    Are Kiwibloggers aware that Penny Bright is just another in a long line of self serving lefties who screech long & hard about how much they care, yet do absolutely nothing for anyone except themselves?

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  42. Johnboy (14,961 comments) says:

    The only problem I’ve ever had with gambling is that I lose all my money.

    Hopefully a fine bunch of folk like the Sallies will reverse my bad run of luck! :)

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  43. RightNow (6,649 comments) says:

    That was a fine display of jumping the shark Penny.

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  44. publicwatchdog (2,099 comments) says:

    Which FACTS in my post did you particularly dislike ‘RightNow’?

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright

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  45. publicwatchdog (2,099 comments) says:

    Oh ‘FreePark’ – what can I possibly say to your semi-hysterical wee rant?

    I know!

    YAWN ……….

    ;)

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright

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  46. freemark (436 comments) says:

    Oh “Ms Batshit”
    You could possibly answer some questions, especially as you seem very good at asking them.
    Unless of course you are more corrupt than those who you incessantly throw the term at….

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  47. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    These sleezy left-wing trough snouters don’t like losing their swill. Stuff them, let them find a real job where have to work! Bet they are mostly unemployable.

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  48. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    RadioLIVE Newsroom @LIVENewsDesk

    David Cunliffe says a controversial decision to pull most of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s funding has a good chance of being overturned

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  49. flipper (3,544 comments) says:

    I believe DPF has accurately labelled the so called PGF.

    I have never, ever, played a pokie in New Zealand. But if I wished to do so, I would like the opportuni8ty to be available. I cannot abide screwballs whose issue intensity is so great that they seek to impose their single minded will on all, rather than target those with a problem.

    The same applies to the Ash crackpots and the nuttrers at OU and MU who lead the anti smoking (I don’t) and anti alcoholic beverage (I do) campaigns.

    I have a two word message for them, and ALL of their supporters: ” bugger off “

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  50. Dave Mann (1,168 comments) says:

    Speaking from personal experience (previously in the voluntary sector for nearly 20 years) these organisations ( like PGF, Mental Health lines, Anti-bullying, Refugees, Anti-Everything, Problem-Thinking, Eco-Depression-Awareness-and-Distigmatization-outreach campaigns) all spring up like weeds. Their existence is created by some bureaucrats in the MSD to deal with a largely invented ‘problem’; the government then throws shitloads of taxpayers’ money at this ‘problem’ and in the process destroys all the low-key, competent and professional services which are already doing valuable work without sucking off the taxpayer.

    My advice to the Salvation Army would be to steer clear of this crock of shit like the plague. The government will fund you beyond your wildest dreams for a few years, eat out your organisation from within, change your culture and your values and hollow you out leaving you as just a shell, full of empty minded bureaucrats.

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  51. Tauhei Notts (1,604 comments) says:

    Possibly off topic but the bit where their C.E.O. gambled away $250,000 at the casino seems unreal.
    Imagine that you are at a roulette table and place $200 on red and $200 on black and the wheel is spun every 120 seconds. On the law of averages you would lose $400 every 74 minutes. That is when the nought came up, of the 37 numbers on the wheel.
    So, to lose $100,000 you would need to stand there for 308 hours 20 minutes. This is mind boggling.

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  52. RRM (9,435 comments) says:

    Rob Reiner: I will end smoking in bars in Colorado! There will be no more smoking here!

    Cartman: Isn’t he awesome, you guys?

    Kyle: What??

    Cartman: Dude, he just goes around imposing his will on people. He’s my idol.

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