Today is one of the most sacred events in the Australian liturgical year: Melbourne Cup day. Pretty much everyone in the country stops to watch the race and to have a punt. Even school children are encouraged to join in the fun of betting on the horses. Though I don't mean to come across as the cranky old Christian spoil-sport, I wrote a piece for the ABC site today, drawing on Karl Barth's animal ethics – Melbourne Cup: the race that tramples creation: "The Melbourne Cup is the climax of a cruel and bloody practice, exhibiting what Karl Barth called our 'astonishing indifference and thoughtlessness' regarding animals."
As for the question of Australia's pathological predilection for gambling, here's a great video with a couple of excellent satirical TV ads. The second ad is especially good – I think this pretty much says it all: