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DECEMBER
NEWSLETTER

Check out all our latest updates

12/2022

Message from the CEO

CarolBennett

Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

What an amazing year 2022 has been for the Alliance for Gambling Reform!

The Alliance was pleased to be one of the first witnesses called to give evidence (following our submission) to the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee national Inquiry into online gambling and its impact on those experiencing gambling harm in early December. 

This is the first national inquiry looking specifically at gambling related harm and we are optimistic about the possibility of the federal government acting to address the urgent need for a co-ordinated national approach in this area.  We are hoping to see some serious discussions about restrictions on inducements, promotions and sponsorships, together with a ban or at least more meaningful limits on sports gambling advertising!

 

Drafting the Annual Report has given us all a chance to reflect on how much we have achieved this year, how much public and media focus there has been on gambling, and the increasing level of activity by all levels of government.  The Alliance has been involved in Royal Commissions into Crown and inquiries into Star Casinos and SkyCity, provided input to a number of seminal reviews, campaigned for reforms in the federal as well as two state election campaigns, worked with politicians and decision makers from across the political spectrum and at all levels of government and been involved in promoting an unprecedented level of public discourse in various media and other forums on key reform issues.  We have also amplified the brave voices of those with lived experience.

We have been doing the hard yards, and it finally feels as though we are now moving forwards towards better gambling policies in Australia.

The Alliance has worked to hone our strategic focus and consolidate our sustainability while maintaining our independence and the quality of our work.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Board led by Chair, Sharon Dickson, for their stewardship of the organisation through a fast-paced year.

Our team has seen some change this year, but as we head towards 2023, I am pleased to say we have a dedicated, skilled and effective team which will be further strengthened when our new Voices Manager, Kate Seselja joins the team in 2023.

 

A big shout out to Tim Costello who has worked tirelessly to present a considered and affable public face for our organisation, and our amazing staff team who are all dedicated to achieving our purpose of reducing gambling harm in our community.

Of course, the Alliance would not be able to do what we do without our leadership councils who have supported us over the last few years (and welcome to our new councils, Moonee Valley and Whittlesea!) as well as our 60 plus partners and foundations and funders.  A huge thank you!!

After a big 2022, we could all do with a few deep breaths before we resume our efforts to advance the cause of gambling reform in 2023.  Rest assured the Alliance will continue working hard to reduce gambling harm and create a fairer Australia where our kids can grow up without being bombarded by advertising and inducements to gamble.  We don’t think we are asking for too much!

In whatever way you are spending the Christmas period, may it be peaceful and enjoyable. 

Thank you for your support of the Alliance and best wishes for the festive season.

Carol Bennett

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO

Federal Inquiry into Online Gambling

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Read our submission by clicking on image above.

After making a Submission to the Federal Inquiry into Online Gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm, the Alliance were invited to give evidence to the Committee on Monday 5 December.

 

The Alliance was represented by our CEO Ms Carol Bennett, Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello and a number of lived experience advocates including our own Anna Bardsley, Voices for Gambling Reform Co-ordinator, who shared their personal experience of gambling harm.

 

In a supplementary report produced by the Alliance for the Inquiry, and drawing on the industry's own figures, we highlighted that more than 430,000 Australian children are likely to be gambling online with almost 40,000 categorised as “risky gamblers” and 14,400 children categorised as “problem gamblers” (note this term a definition adopted by the UK Gambling Commission, not the Alliance).

 

It also shows that Australians bet 20% more online than any other nation in the world, being the highest per capita and 3rd largest in market share of online gambling.

 

In his evidence to the Committee, Chief Advocate Rev Costello stated “We have little national regulation on gambling and at state level we have Ministers for Gambling. The implications are that online gaming operators are able to groom our kids with impunity and the implications will be horrific and lifelong”.

 

In our submission, the Alliance outlines significant reforms to reduce gambling harm in 19 recommendations across 7 areas including banning the broadcast of gambling advertisements and introducing national gambling regulation and a national regulator.

 

Our supplementary report is available here.

 

The transcript of the hearing is available at www.agr.org.au.

 

Our media release: More than 430,000 children likely to be gambling online - Australians bet 20% more online than any other country, new figures.

 

The Voices Anna Bardsley also provided a submission to the Inquiry which can be found here.

 

There are many stories of harm caused by online gambling, including the experience of Gavin Fineff - you can read his story here. A reminder to support Gavin’s efforts by signing our petition to help make gambling companies accountable: www.agr.org.au/onlinegamblingreform.

2022
Year in Review

The Alliance’s 2022 Annual Report will be emailed to our supporters shortly.

 

Here’s a snapshot of what to expect:

 

In a year that heralded a significant shift in community understanding and concern about gambling harm, we:

 

  • Took part in Royal Commissions into Crown Casino in Melbourne and Perth as well as inquiries into both Star Sydney and Queensland and provided a submission to the Inquiry into SkyCity Adelaide.
     

  • We saw record fines to casinos for non-compliance (increasing from $1 million to $100 million).
     

  • Submitted to the NSW Crime Commission and received numerous mentions in the report which highlighted widespread money laundering, fraud, crime and other harms related to gambling across NSW in pubs and clubs in local communities.
     

  • Advocated to make gambling harm a NSW State election issue.
     

  • Provided powerful and compelling evidence to all of the above-mentioned inquiries and Royal Commissions into Crown and Star Queensland and Sydney via our voices.
     

  • Saw significant bipartisan commitment to harm reduction measures including a mandatory pre-commitment, cashless card system in Tasmania and other states including NSW now actively considering it.
     

  • Led the charge for improved data collection and improved self-exclusion systems.
     

  • Saw the implementation of special, independent managers (in Vic and Qld) keeping abreast of all elements of each casino reforms.
     

  • Pushed for regulatory overhaul in many states.

 

We led successful campaigns, including our Federal Election campaign where we called for:

 

  • A ban on sports gambling advertising across all broadcast platforms.

  • Closing loopholes that allow gambling using credit cards.

  • Creating a national casino regulator and online gambling ombudsman.

  • Stopping political donations from the gambling industry.

 

We worked with politicians across the political spectrum (including the new teal independents) to push for reform at local, state and federal levels.

 

We made a record number of submissions this year, 15 in total, on topics as diverse as Facial Recognition Technology to defence and veterans suicide.

 

Alongside all of this, our Media team went into overdrive!

 

Some of our media highlights:

  • We authored 30+ press releases.

  • Had 10 Opinion pieces published.

  • Did dozens of media interviews.

 

Our sincere thanks to our funders, partners and supporters for working with us to change the conversation on gambling and its harms.

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Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello with Independent Senator David Pocock, met recently to discuss the importance of gambling reform.

Victoria and NSW Election Overview

The Victorian State election handed a victory to the ALP.  Disappointingly though, it was not a victory for gambling reform.

 

Despite improved casino regulation just days before the election both major parties chose to protect the interests of the gambling industry by pledging not to implement the same harm reduction measures in pubs and clubs.

 

Our Chief Advocate, Rev Tim Costello said “the use of mandatory gambling cards across the sector would not just mitigate the harm caused by gambling, it would make poker machines a less viable means for criminals to launder and gamble money."

 

You can read Tim’s piece in The Age https://www.theage.com.au/.../who-is-victoria-s-biggest.

 

And in NSW, there was a frenzy of interest following the release of the NSW Crime Commission report last month showing billions in widespread crime, money laundering and fraud not just in the casinos but spreading out to every community in NSW that has  a club or pub with poker machines.  The level of community outrage was palpable when both major parties initially refused to show leadership on the issue, sidestepping the need for major reforms despite the clear evidence from multiple inquiries of the harms being inflicted on the NSW community. 

 

The imminent signing of an MOU between NSW Clubs and the two major parties created a media storm.

 

It was Premier Perrotet who showed the fortitude to stare down Clubs NSW and push for a cashless gambling card (as a condition of signing an MOU with Clubs NSW) as recommended by the Crime Commission. 

 

Unfortunately ALP leader, Chris Minns, is maintaining that a voluntary trial would need to occur before he would make a call on the cashless card.  You need only to see the results of the recent Resolve poll showing widespread community support for a cashless card and read the opinion columns to see a backlash from the community on this stance with words such as ‘spineless’ and ‘weak’ being leveled at the Shadow Premier.

 

The independents in NSW remain strong on the need for a cashless card.  A group of influential Liberal party ministers (Victor Dominello and Matt Kean among them) have joined with Premier Perrotet to support the measure.  The NSW Greens have shown outstanding resolve on gambling reform extending to a policy to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs in the next decade.  

 

While this issue is still live and details are yet to be provided by the NSW Liberals on features and the timeframe for a cashless card, it is clear that gambling reform has become a key election issue in NSW (the state that is second only to Nevada in losses and harm in the world). 

 

The Alliance will be actively advocating for mandatory pre-commitment and a cashless gambling card to be implemented in NSW as well as other key measures to reduce harm.  We will post an update on our NSW election campaign early in 2023.

 

We will also join our friends at Wesley Mission as well as a large group of NSW and national organisations calling to ‘Put Pokies in their Place’.

 

You can find out more about what’s happening in NSW here.

Welcome our new councils

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Welcome Whittlesea and Moonee Valley City Councils!

 

This month the Alliance has welcomed both the City of Whittlesea and the City of Moonee Valley to our growing Leadership Councils team.

 

By joining the Alliance as a Leadership Council, they join other councils leading the way in reducing harm from gambling in their communities.  We will provide them with ongoing policy support and information as well as practical gambling harm reduction strategies and activities in their electorates.

 

You can read more about local Councils taking action here.

 

Interested to find out more? Contact our Councils and Supporters Coordinator, Rebecca Paterson.

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Kate Seselja
Voices for Gambling Reform Manager

Introducing our new Voices for Gambling Reform Manager: Kate Seselja

We’re so excited to welcome Ms Kate Seselja to our team in 2023 as the Voices for Gambling Reform Manager.

 

Kate is passionate about removing shame and stigma and driving real change to reduce and prevent gambling harm, and she brings a depth of lived experience. 

 

Kate will work with Anna Bardsley in the Voices team to harness and support our incredible army of volunteers who courageously and generously share their experiences.

 

Kate recently made her own call to action which you can find on our website.

Media Releases

In The News

Once again it’s been a very busy month in the media with the Federal Inquiry into Online Gambling currently underway, the Victorian State Election held, the cashless gambling card becoming a key election issue in NSW and the Star being taken to court by AUSTRAC.

 

The Guardian also ran a gambling series that highlighted many important aspects of harm including the interests of the big superannuation funds in investing their members' hard-earned retirement funds in gambling interests.

You can view the articles here:

14 Nov: Bad Bet: Australia’s Gambling Addiction

 

29 Nov: Gambling Reform is urgently needed across Australia: lives are at stake

 

The Alliance featured heavily in the discussions here.

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First NSW cashless gaming trial results criticised as further trials continue

Drinks Trade

The report into the cashless gaming trial conducted at Wests Newcastle has received criticism from various industry stakeholders after it showed the technology to have little impact on the behaviour of gamblers.

The main areas of concern have stemmed from the trial’s lack of harm-reducing features and lack of features that encourage continued participation.

“It was mostly about testing the technology and a little bit of a hint towards harm minimisation,” said Carol Bennet, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

“I would have liked to see more on the harm minimisation front.”

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This community club took extreme measures to kill off its pokies

The Age

“The Hastings Club is reacting to state regulations that limit its capacity to meet increased liabilities at a time when returns from gambling are diminishing,” said the Alliance for Gambling Reform chief executive Carol Bennett.

“The government should be providing clubs every opportunity to surrender poker machine entitlements for the benefit of the community, but this is unlikely given the parlous budgetary situation in Victoria,” she said.

“A government focussed on reducing gambling harm would strive to reduce overall pokies entitlements altogether. Revenue from gambling should not be propping up the Victorian budget.”

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“An Error Was Made In Round One”: Tabcorp Admits To Breaching Its Own Advertising Rules

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The mistake has raised calls for gambling advertising reform with the ground-based ads engraining gambling practice within the sport itself. According to the Alliance For Gambling Reform, three in every four kids believe that gambling is a normal part of sports, and anyone 12 or younger has never watched a sporting game without bearing witness to gambling advertising of some capacity.

“I am now reluctant to allow my child to view the footy fixture online due to the ‘Bet Easy’ icon next to the game. I also feel annoyed and dismayed at the AFL that they have allowed a gambling company to infiltrate the game,” an anonymous source told the Alliance For Gambling Reform.

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Have your say on whether $8m pokie-free Warringah Golf Club House should be able to serve alcohol

The Daily Telegraph

Outspoken anti-poker machine campaigner and supporter of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Pat Daley, praised the club for going pokie-free.

Mr Daley, who pushed for gambling reforms while a councillor with Northern Beaches and Warringah councils, said it th golf club was seen as a “real example of what can be done” as NSW moves towards a reduction in macines and tougher poker machine policies.

“The proposed new club has wide support in the local community”.

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Gambling reform on agenda

Wangaratta Chronicle

The Rural City of Wangaratta will join the Alliance with the action endorsed in a March council meeting. The decision to join the Alliance is one of the measures under council's endorsement of its Policy to Reduce Gambling Harm and Strategic Plan to Reduce Gambling Harm.

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Pokies venues bet on community goodwill over gambling revenue

Institute of Community Directors Australia

Faced with inaction from government, some pokies venues are taking matters into their own hands to stem community losses from gambling, writes Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett.

There is a growing backlash against gambling in Australia.

Across Australia’s eastern states, clubs and pubs are increasingly shunning poker machines.

In some cases, it’s a response to falling revenue, but mostly it is a response by clubs and pubs to the growing anger across the nation about the intolerable and devastating gambling losses we all pay a price for.

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NSW Netball Teams Back Gambling Ad Ban

B&T

The mistake raised calls for gambling advertising reform with the ground-based ads engraining gambling practice within the sport itself. According to the Alliance For Gambling Reform, three in every four kids believe that gambling is a normal part of sports, and anyone 12 or younger has never watched a sporting game without bearing witness to gambling advertising of some capacity.

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'Dud' policy or 'absolutely essential'? Battlelines drawn over the best ways to reduce gambling harm

Riotact

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett asked why the two had to be mutually exclusive.

“Why wouldn’t we aim for both?” she asked.

ACTCOSS CEO Devin Bowles added: “Having a system that encompasses the whole jurisdiction is absolutely essential if we want to minimise gambling harms.”

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‘We know the community is over it’: how self-regulation of gambling ads came unstuck minutes into an AFL game

The Guardian

Tim Costello, the Chief Advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, says the return of football has reminded many families of what they hate: “a tsunami of gambling and sports betting ads”. “Fans hate it,” Costello says. “Parents hate it. But the AFL is unmoved. Do gambling interests now completely own our game?”

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Advocates warn Northern Territory gambling reforms may leave public at risk

Gold Coast Bulletin

Alliance for Gambling Reform called for a national wagering commission, saying the Northern Territory had proven it “was not equipped” to regulate the industry.

“The federal government must step in,” chief executive Carol Bennett said, in line with recommendations from last year’s ‘You win some, you lose more’ parliamentary inquiry into online gambling.

Ms Bennett said that in drafting its laws the NT government consulted 28 gambling companies and just one harm-minimisation organisation, resulting in proposed $1.7m penalties being slashed to $440,000.

“If the NT government were serious about who their clients were, they’d recognise that it’s the Australian public, not the gambling industry,” she said.

TOP SOCIAL STORIES

  •  "More than 430,000 Australian children are likely to be gambling online with almost 40,000 categorised as risky gamblers", the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said. Read our latest media release.
     

  • “Most people were not offended by the tagline, gamble responsibly…But if people understood the deliberate irresponsibility of the industry, the evidence that through its casinos and poker machines in pubs and clubs it has facilitated organised crime, fraud and money laundering involving billions of dollars - they would think differently.” AGR Chief Advocate Tim Costello writes in The Canberra Times.  Read more here.
     

  • "Everyone I speak to is fed up with being bombarded by gambling ads on our screens. Australia is a virtually unregulated, Wild West for foreign-owned online sports gambling agencies that are registered in the Northern Territory and pay minimal tax." More with AGR Chief Advocate Tim Costello. 'On pokies, it seems NSW Labor stands for social injustice'.
     

  • Major parties in Vic have reassured the gambling industry there will be no policy changes to poker machines, meaning no reforms aimed at reducing harm and protecting communities. Victorian Greens and independents platforms are stronger on gambling reform. Read more here.
     

  • "Accused sex slave traders, a murderer for hire, loan sharks and drug traffickers were allowed to gamble billions of dollars at Star Entertainment for years despite details of their crimes being publicly available." Read more here. [paywall]   
     

  • "This says that Star really couldn't care less about the regulations and the rules, all they care about is their profits" said AGR's CEO Carol Bennett. https://youtu.be/NdVhACOBuH0
     

  • Financial watchdog Austrac has alleged that Star casino has been breaking anti-money laundering laws. "Star Entertainment faces more civil penalties for allegedly allowing customers to move cash through risky back channels and continuing business with “higher-risk customers” in breach of federal anti-money laundering laws." Read more here.

SUPPORT
the Alliance for Gambling Reform

As you can see, we have achieved so much this year, and we couldn’t have done it without your support.

 

We are raising money to continue our work to prevent and reduce gambling harm in Australia.

 

Your donations help enable us to end gambling advertisements to children, end predatory targeting by gambling companies and will help in the push to establish a national gambling regulator.

We’re making great headway towards reform, but we still have a long way to go. It’s still very much a David and Goliath battle for real reform.

 

This is why we need your support.

 

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is a registered Public Health charity with endorsed DGR Status meaning that your donations are tax deductible.

 

Donations can be made securely online via Square or Paypal.

 

 

 

Thank you for your support.

Please note that we are legally obliged to record contact details such as your address and name. We also ask for your email and phone number so we can supply you with a receipt of your donation and to thank you for your support. We will never share your information with anyone outside the Alliance unless obligated to do so under the law.

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Operating Hours over the Christmas Period

This year, the Alliance for Gambling Reform Office will be closed from Friday 23 December through to Tuesday 3 January 2023 to allow our team to enjoy a well-earned break.


For all inquiries, email info@agr.org.au.

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