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Parliamentary Friends for Reducing Gambling Harm Group 

On Wednesday 22 March 2023 the First meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Gambling Harm Reduction for the 47th Parliament was held at Parliament House, Canberra.  The friends' group is co-chaired by Andrew Wilkie MP and Rebekha Sharkie MP.  Members consist of members and senators from across the political spectrum and all members and senators were invited to attend the meeting.  


The Alliance provided input to the program which focussed on online gambling and included presentations from Carol Bennett, CEO Alliance for Gambling Reform -  overview of the impact of gambling in Australia (including online gambling); Gavin Fineff on companies targeting losers – a personal experience (presented by his mum Lyn) and Harry who presented a younger person’s experience of online gambling.

Australia is blind to its addiction to gambling even though Australians are the biggest losers in the world when it comes to gambling per capita - 40% higher than any other country on poker machines and a conservative estimate of 20% ahead of any other country in the world in online gambling. Based on very conservative extrapolations from the UK, at least 432,000 Australian children under 16 are already gambling.

We don’t like to admit it, but the impact of gambling is borne by many individuals, families, workplaces, communities, our justice systems, hospitals, schools, our safety, productivity and wellbeing. Harm from gambling includes relationship difficulties (links to family violence), health problems (depression, anxiety), emotional and psychological distress, individual/family financial problems, issues with work or study, cultural problems and criminal activity and unfortunately also gambling-related death by suicide...Read More

Carol Bennett, CEO Alliance for Gambling Reform's speech to Parliamentary Friends Group .

Harry's Father, Rebekha Sharkie MP, Harry, Carol Bennett - Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO, Kate Seselja - Alliance for Gambling Reform Voice for Gambling Reform Manager and Andrew Wilkie MP.

Letter from Gavin Fineff for the Parliamentary Friends Group meeting.

...I think it’s important to raise, that it is the customers with Gambling Disorder that generates the majority of revenue for operators and Government. The industry has taken advantage of the profit taking opportunity and appreciated the ‘poor eyesight’ of regulators. The evidence I have of both failures is described to me as shocking and jaw dropping …… to me,
it is just sad. I should have been stopped, and it would have been so easy. Why wasn’t I stopped? Why was I given millions of dollars of free bets? Why were the red flags and monitoring alerts ignored? What needs to happen so the next me is stopped, because I
promise you, he, or she, in their minds is fixing a problem, not making one far worse?...Read More


Harry's speech.

...I got my first bookmaker when I turned 18. The first ever deposit I did was 100% matched in bonus bets. It started out spending 20 dollars here 20 dollars there with a few wins and losses.

Within a month or so I was spending more then I could afford. I knew I was getting hooked early on but I didn’t know just how bad I was going to get. The more I spent the more I was looked after buy these online bookmakers. Before long I was spending everything I was getting paid. Most weeks id get paid at 6pm Friday and it would be gone by Friday night...Read More

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The Alliance for Gambling Reform (The Alliance) strongly supports the prohibition of gambling with credit including using credit cards, ‘buy now, pay later’ systems, digital or ewallets and third-party payment mechanisms based on the principle that people should not be able to gamble with money they do not have. READ MORE

The 'Social Justice Meets Public Health: Tackling Gambling Harm in Australia' symposium is offering a special ticket price of $399 in person for supporters of the Alliance for Gambling Reform. 


This offer is only available from 20 March to 2 April 2023. 


The event is a hybrid format - this means that you have the option of attending the event in person in Adelaide or online.

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The Public Health Association of Australia and the Alliance for Gambling Reform are hosting the Gambling Harm Symposium as a pre-conference event to the Preventive Health Conference 2023 to be held in Adelaide.

The symposium will focus on mounting evidence of gambling related harm internationally.  We are in a unique period of intense focus on gambling with State casino inquiries in Vic, NSW, WA, Qld and SA and growing concerns about the impact of sports gambling betting, online gambling and continued harmful land-based gambling primarily through poker machines.  The forum aims to highlight the evidence while identifying tangible solutions to a problem that has been largely left to grow out of control through a series of political circumstances and historical decisions.


Our speaker line up includes politicians, leading experts in public health, those with lived experience, social justice and leading researchers and academics.

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Speakers Include


Latest Media Release


New South Wales State Election 2023

Action now to reduce money laundering and gambling harm. 

The NSW election is less than 9 weeks away. Gambling reform is one of the key issues. The Alliance for Gambling Reform is advocating a mandated cashless gambling card for all poker machines in NSW with mandatory pre-commitment, binding and default limits (that follow the Tasmanian model) and does not allow the use of credit. This system will stamp out crime and have a major impact in preventing and minimising gambling harm in the most impacted state in Australia.

A number of MPs (including Premier Dominic Perrottet) and other candidates have thrown their support behind the proposed cashless gaming card including the NSW Police Commissioner, the peak union body UnionsNSW, churches, leading charities and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

On 16 January 2022, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns shared his plan for the election including yet another trial with less than 0.6% of the state's poker machines involved.

The Alliance firmly opposes another trial given the findings and key recommendation of the NSW Crime Commission. We support action now to reduce money laundering and gambling harm. Historically, trials of gambling reforms in Australia have led nowhere.

We’re calling on you to help reduce the state’s growing toll of gambling harm by reaching out to your local Labor MP or candidate and urging them to immediately support a cashless system with gambling harm minimisation features as proposed by the Alliance, rather than yet another trial.

Trials will not change anything, we have evidence of what needs to be done and action must be taken now!

City Lights


The risk of gambling harm from poker machines increases after dark. We know that the high levels of harm being experienced by people in the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning are avoidable. 
Click here to learn more and take action



It's time to kick gambling ads out of sport!
Sign the petition and find out more about how you can stand with us to end gambling ads here!



nline gambling participation has increased exponentially over the past few years and the true extent of its impacts and reach are still being fully understood. However, the evidence available shows significant gambling harm being experienced online by young people and vulnerable community groups with a significant increase in online wagering companies profits over the past few years. Click here to learn more and take action

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Rev Tim Costello
Chief Advocate

Some of our largest companies and investment funds have a vested interest in poker machine gambling. Governments want few restraints given that $5.5 billion flow into their coffers every year. This is a difficult problem to unlock. Many Australians have a stake in the future of the gambling industry through their superannuation, equity investments and participation in clubs and pubs.

Over the past twenty years this is an industry that has been unleashed on Australia, without reasonable regulatory controls or even a genuine community conversation.

Australian Currency


Australians spend more per person on gambling than any other country in the world - almost double that of New Zealand.

Poker machines are the most harmful form of gambling, making up $11 billion of Australia’s total gambling losses in clubs and pubs alone.

Australians spend more money gambling than on other activities that can be addictive and dangerous including alcohol, tobacco and all illegal drugs. It is a major driver of household debt, and family and personal dysfunction.

The Australian gambling industry pocketed $25 billion dollars in 2018-19, largely from Australians who can least afford it. A complacent attitude to the gambling industry has resulted in few marketing, planning or technology constraints.









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Latest News

Historic Sunshine Coast pub ditches pokies to create family friendly atmosphere

ABC News

17 Mar 2023

Jessica Huddart bought a 114-year-old pub in June last year, and on Tuesday she ripped out the poker machines to send them to the rubbish tip.

Mapleton Public House in the Sunshine Coast hinterland had six gaming machines near the bar, but Ms Huddart wanted to improve the atmosphere.

CEO Carol Bennett on 10 News First

10 News First

13 Mar 2023

We blew up the pokies, brought back the music and lifted turnover 700%

The Sydney Morning Herald

13 Mar 2023

Pokies aren’t just bad for health and bad for society, they are anti-business and anti-innovation. They make businesses lazy. They make governments lazy. They serve as a form of social subsidy stopping businesses from failing when they should. They act as a possibility levee, stopping ideas from thriving when they should.

Investigating Australia's gambling addiction | 101 East documentary

East Documentary

16 Mar 2023

'Australia's gambling addiction and place as the world's biggest losers in the world laid bare by our Chief Advocate Tim Costello and #voices4gamblingreform Kate Selsja on @Al Jazeera program 101 East.

Young men biggest at-risk group for gambling

12 Mar 2023

The Alliance for Gambling Reform says past efforts to ban gambling on credit have been clumsily framed and at least in part relied on the gambling industry to self-regulate. It notes that while credit cards can’t be used in licenced ven­ues, casinos or TABs, there is no tracking of cash taken from credit accounts out of ATMs. And the restrictions on online gambling providers to offering credit to customers doesn’t extend to on-course bookmakers or telephone-based services.

“These loopholes and exceptions means people are falling into a pit of debt; our political leaders must move to protect people at risk of gambling harm. The industry will never do this because they are intent on boosting their fat profits,” alliance chief executive Carol Bennett said.

Gambling is the new tobacco, it's time we took urgent action

The Canberra Times

3 Mar 2023

In 1994, the executives of seven of the world's largest tobacco companies appeared before the US Congress and infamously declared that nicotine was not addictive. History subsequently shows they were lying, their own research revealed how addictive tobacco was but they buried the findings.

Today government regulations strictly limits tobacco availability and promotion to reduce the harm it causes our health, our lives and the wider economy. Ironically, this is far from the case when it comes to another profound public harm, gambling.

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