Drink, smoke 'n' gamble

In the 19th century, a legal or illegal tavern was often the first structure built in a new settlement, especially on the gold fields. Most of Queensland is hot in summer, so workers looked forward to a beer or three at the end of the working day. Gambling took the form of card games and two up, both informal and illegal. In the 20th century, governments readily embraced taxes placed on alcohol and tobacco. But it was not until the government established the Totalising Agency Board - the TAB - did governments start to get a huge income from betting, not just on horses, but dogs and later, sporting events. Poker machines, first introduced in New South Wales in 1956, lured thousands of Queenslanders south of the border, especially to Tweed Heads. Stung by this loss of revenue, the Queensland Government legalised large casinos in the mid-1980s but did not allow poker machines until 1992.

Women were not allowed to drink in public bars in Queensland until 1970, even though some licensees were female and female barmaids were popular. The legal drinking age was reduced from 21 to 18 in 1979. Beer, wine and spirits became easier to purchase with drive-in grog shops, and tobacco products were even sold in supermarkets. Restrictions not only on the sale of cigarettes but where they can be smoked are now among the strictest in the world. Some smokers resent this restriction on their freedom, while a majority of the population have welcomed the move.

Caption

Ugly Dave Gray with 3 cigars, ca1970, Greyhound advertisement. Ian Poole Collection, John Oxley Library, SLQ