At 10 am on a Saturday, the Epping Shopping Plaza is bustling with screaming children, pensioners pushing their shopping jeeps, and parents waiting impatiently as coffee machines whir. Waxy supermarket produce gleams under fluorescent lights, homewares are stacked high in shop windows, clothing racks spill out into the mall, and the smell of baking bread wafts through the crowd.
Out a side door, facing a lonely, gusty section of the car park, squats the entrance to the Epping Shopping Plaza Hotel. Its facade is smoky glass and promotional decals. The venue is home to a hundred poker machines, which account for the highest losses anywhere in the state. Every year, gamblers lose $18 million in this place. At 10 am on a Saturday, it is full of people.
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