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Welcome to our
DECEMBER
NEWSLETTER

Check out all our latest updates

12/2023

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Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

Message from the CEO

What a year it has been for gambling reform!  Our Annual Report 2022-23 outlined a huge number of achievements, all of which are slowly pushing us towards a public health approach to addressing the huge losses and harms experienced by Australians.  Unfortunately, we are still by far the country with the largest per capita losses anywhere in the world.     

Perhaps the most poignant achievement this year was the ‘Murphy Report’: You Win Some You Lose More delivered to the Federal Government in June.  While we still await a response to the critical 31 recommendations from the Federal Government, the clarity and truth of this multi-party report is undeniable.  We have called on the federal government to respond to the Murphy report as a matter of urgency and supported Dr Monique Ryan’s bill to increase political transparency.  

It was with great sadness that we received the news of Chair of the Inquiry, Peta Murphy’s passing in early December.  We have indeed lost a courageous and authentic champion for gambling reform in the federal government. Vale Peta Murphy.   

Our joint release with Transparency International of new analysis of political lobbying highlighted that the gambling industry hires more lobbyists than almost any other harmful product industry in Australia.  This fact might help explain why Australia leads the world in losses and harms as well as lax regulation.  

It’s somewhat disturbing to see the major parties confirming Australians concerns that they are captured by industry interests when seemingly innocuous decisions in the community interest are declined.  One such example occurred when the senate rejected a call from Independent Senator David Pocock to stop political parties from receiving donations from big gambling.  While the government had no difficulty accepting the same push on tobacco in the same week in another bill, it seems that gambling is a different ballgame altogether.  And it underlines why the crossbench have become so important in gambling reform – they are highlighting and proposing much needed reform that reflects public interest.   

As the much-welcomed credit legislation was passed this week (with quite a few loopholes), it reminded me of the work of Zoe Daniel and Rebekha Sharkie over the past 12 months.  They have put up multiple private members bills this year seeking to deliver greater transparency and gambling reform.  In fact, most of the crossbenchers have engaged in gambling reform to some degree.   With our political system now dominated by vested interests, the need for politicians who represent the public interest is never more important.   

And on that note, the Alliance released a poll in early December undertaken by Pure Profile that showed that 77.6% of Australians think there is too much gambling advertising in sport.  Another 71.3% think it should be banned from sport altogether.  A clarion call to the federal government that gambling advertising is a hot button issue for Australians.  Let’s hope they heed that call in their response to the ‘Murphy report’ and agree to the clear recommendation to phase in a ban of gambling advertising over three years among other important reforms. 

The Alliance has contributed to several important reviews and inquiries this year, and on 1 December Tim and I gave evidence to the Queensland casinos inquiry.  We urged all recommendations from the Gotterson review into the Star casino be adopted by the Queensland government and in particular, a mandatory pre-commitment carded system with binding and default limits.  Hopefully the outcomes will mirror the very strong report from the Public Account and Estimates Committee (which the Alliance also provided a submission and evidence to) in Victoria which urged the Victorian government to adopt a solid blueprint for reducing gambling harm in Victoria.   

Finally, for those wanting to choose a pokies free venue we have created a map to guide gambling free decisions this festive season!   

Thanks again for your support in 2023 – without your generosity and contribution to our work, we would not exist. 

Please enjoy a safe and peaceful Christmas period and we look forward to working with all our supporters to see important gambling reforms take effect in 2024!   

Join us to end gambling harm by making a regular donation of just $10 a month to support our End Gambling Ads Campaign

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If you’re looking for a meaningful gift that supports long overdue gambling reform in Australia, then the Alliance for Gambling Reform gift card ticks all the boxes! 

  

Last year was BIG and we are looking forward to building on this momentum with backing from our wonderful supporters, partners and funders. 

  

Choose your donation and gift card to send to your loved ones and you will be supporting us to keep working for: 

  

  1. A ban on gambling ads and inducements 

  2. A national gambling regulator 

  3. Mandatory cashless gambling with default and binding limits nationwide 

  

Thank you for your support. 

 

Happy festive season! 

If you wish to make a donation via bank transfer

Alliance For Gambling Reform Inc

Please contact info@agr.org.au for bank details.

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Vale
Peta Murphy MP

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Federal MP for Dunkley Peta Murphy on 4 December. 
 
“We’ve lost a real champion for gambling reform,” the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said. 

 

Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello honoured Peta as ‘a friend, a neighbour and a gambling reform champion.  Peta was the bravest woman I know, serving the community until the very end’. 

 

As Chair of the parliamentary inquiry into online gambling and its impact on those experiencing gambling harm, Peta took a deep interest in listening to those with lived experience and ensuring the 31 recommendations from the inquiry tackled the harm they’d experienced.  

 

You can view the Alliance’s Media Release here 

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Peta Murphy, speaking with Harry, who spoke of his lived experience of gambling harm at Parliament House.

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Alliance Annual Report Released 

We are happy to share with you our 2022/23 Annual Report. 

It’s been a big year, with lots of big stories and lots of momentum to be excited about. 

It was wonderful to have this opportunity to review just how much the discussion has shifted in one year.  

Celebrate the wins we’ve achieved together and get inspired to keep pushing for an Australia free from gambling harm. 

Our Annual Report provides an overview of our work over the past year and includes the big stories throughout the year, our advocacy and policy work, our work with local councils, our first National Gambling Harm Conference and much more! 

Thanks to all our supporters - regardless of how you support us, we couldn’t do it without you. 

You can view the Alliance’s 2022/23 Annual Report here.   

Queensland Casino Inquiry

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The Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO, Carol Bennett provided testimony to the Queensland Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 Inquiry

The Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO, Carol Bennett and Chief Advocate Tim Costello provided testimony on 1 December to the Queensland Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 Inquiry.   

This follows the Alliance's extensive involvement in the 2022 External Review of the Queensland operations of the Star Casino, where we provided a submission, gave testimony, and supported those with lived experience to do the same. The Alliance then provided comment on the draft Bill to the Department leading up to this submission and testimony to the inquiry. 

The outcomes from the Gotterson inquiry are compelling and the legislation set by the Queensland Government is a positive step forward. However, the Alliance urges the Queensland Government to ensure the reforms are in no way watered down. Importantly, the casinos must introduce a mandatory pre-commitment system with binding and reasonable default limits. Even more importantly, all recommendations from the Gotterson review must be implemented in all pubs and clubs in Queensland.

News article by Brisbane Times

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Pokies Free Pubs and Clubs Website

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The Alliance has created a community map with your input showing pokies free pubs and clubs around Australia!  

 

We hope you’ll be able to make use of this tool in the upcoming holiday season, knowing you’ve got a guide to places you can enjoy entertainment free from poker machine harm. And know you’re supporting a business that’s made the choice not to include machines at their venue. 

 

We’d also love you to use your future travels to help us keep adding to the map! You can nominate a venue by providing their details.  

 

And don’t forget to spread the word and help us promote pokies free venues by sharing the map with your friends and family.  

 

Cheers to a pokies free Summer! 

 

You can view the new Pokies Free Pubs website here 

Gambling lobby ‘bets big’ on lobbyists 

The gambling industry hires the most lobbying firms across Australia, more than double that of any other harmful product industry according to new analysis of the Federal lobbyist register. 

  

It reveals that the gambling industry has access to up to 280 lobbyists seeking to influence our Federal political leaders. 

  

The research also highlights the appalling ‘revolving door’ that has seen at least seven Federal Ministers, senior advisors and even one Premier work in lobbying roles for the gambling sector. 

  

The analysis was led by leading Melbourne University academic, Dr Jenn Lacy-Nichols, and jointly released by Transparency International Australia and the Alliance for Gambling Reform. 

 

The CEO of Transparency International Australia (TIA), Clancy Moore, said the research highlighted the need to end the secrecy of Australia’s lobbying regime and stop the revolving door. 

 

“Every day, harmful industries like gambling employ thousands of lobbyists to walk the halls of parliament meeting with Ministers and public servants under the cover the of darkness to influence policy making often against the public interest. 

 

Read more in our media release 

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The gambling lobby’s influence is clear in the ‘watered-down’ bill to ban gambling on credit passed by the Senate on December 6. 

  

The Alliance welcomed the passing of the Credit bill in the last sitting week of parliament, albeit some loopholes.  And it was profoundly telling that the Albanese Government and opposition would not even contemplate an amendment from independent Senator David Pocock to the bill that would stop political parties from receiving political donations from gambling interests – when it accepted similar prohibitions on tobacco only earlier in the same week! 

 

Read our full Media Release here 

Read a news article on this 

Over 70% of Australians want gambling ads banned 

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The vast majority of Australians believe there is too much gambling advertising in sport and want it to be banned, according to new polling released by the Alliance for Gambling Reform. 

The poll, which involved 1,004 people aged over 18 years, showed 77.6% believed there was too much gambling advertising in sport, while 71.3% thought gambling advertising should be banned from sport completely. 

 On both issues there was a stronger response against gambling advertising from men – who are mostly the focus of gambling advertising. 

It also found more than 50% of people polled also believed there was too much junk food and alcohol advertising in sport. 

The poll was conducted by Pure Profile between 14-18 June this year. The sample was nationally representative for age, gender and jurisdiction.

 

Read the report here 

Read a copy of our media release here 

The Alliance Chief Advocate Tim Costello and CEO Carol Bennett joined Zoe Daniel MP, Kate Chaney MP and mum Cecelia Aull with her daughter Annabelle at a press conference at Parliament House to call on the Federal Government to ban gambling ads.  

Renewed Call to Ban Gambling Ads 

On 28 November, Alliance Chief Advocate Tim Costello and CEO Carol Bennett joined Zoe Daniel MP, Kate Chaney MP and mum Cecelia Aull with her daughter Annabelle at a press conference at Parliament House to call on the Federal Government to ban gambling ads.  

In late June, the Federal Government tabled the ‘Murphy report’ from the inquiry into online gambling harm which found Australians spent the most in the world per capita on legal gambling, losing $25 billion a year. 

The inquiry recommended a complete, phased-in ban on all gambling advertising in every state and territory within three years and warned that advertising was grooming children into gamblers.  

However, nearly six months after the report was released, no advertising recommendations have been implemented and we are still waiting for a response from the Federal Government.  

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is calling on the government to take urgent action and begin implementing the ban.  

"We're worried about … this delay and what we see as a cozy sort of relationship with the sports gambling industry and some of the big [sporting] codes," Chief Advocate Tim Costello said. 

We need the federal government to show the resolve to stare down the gambling industry and to act in the best interest of the public! 

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Ban Gambling Ads 
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VIC

The Alliance for Gambling Reform calls on the Victorian Government to immediately adopt all 61 recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry which has detailed a comprehensive blueprint to dramatically cut gambling harm across the State. 

The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) report published on 28 November details a raft of recommendations including the consideration of setting gambling loss limits, reducing the number of poker machines in the State and imposing greater restrictions on gambling advertising. 

Over eight months the Committee reviewed three Auditor-General’s reports relating to the regulation of gambling and liquor, and reducing the harm caused by gambling.  

PAEC urged the state government to consider stricter rules on gambling ads during primetime broadcasts and in public places. 

The report also asks the government to consider the impact of reducing the total number of electronic gaming machines across the state and update education resources for school students about gambling and alcohol-related harms. 

Vic Govt must act on gambling harm blueprint

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 The report highlights that Victorians lost $7.5b in 2022-23 to gambling, rebounding strongly since losses fell due to the pandemic lockdown of recent years. 

The Alliance CEO, Carol Bennett said “PAEC has created a blueprint for dramatically cutting gambling harm in Victoria. It has laid bare the extent of the problem and there is now no excuse for government inaction.” 

Read the Alliance media release here 

Watch the key recommendations of the report here 

News article by the Guardian 

Councils and Supporters

With the year drawing to a close, councils and supporters have been finalising their work and planning for the year ahead and we have been doing the same! 

 

Expanded team for councils and supporters 

 

The team overseeing councils and supporters has grown, with Mel Ferris coming on board as a project officer in October, utilising her many years of local government and public health policy experience to allow us to provide more engagement to our councils and supporters.  

 

Mel is looking forward to meeting those of you she hasn’t met already and will be available on a part time basis. She can be reached at melissa.ferris@agr.org.au 

 

Gambling policies 

 

In the last month, several councils released and held consultation on gambling harm policies, including Banyule, Mildura, Wangaratta and Wodonga. The Alliance submitted to each of these consultations, and the Wangaratta consultation is still open until 31 January.  You can provide feedback here

 

Poker machine applications 

 

As is common in Victoria, we find that the end of the year also brings a flurry of applications for new machines or venues and 2023 is no exception. 

 

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Melissa Ferris - Councils and Supporters Coordinator

City of Melbourne 

Clocks at Flinders in Melbourne have applied for an additional 5 machines. While the number is small, this will take the total number of machines to 105 and the location is adjacent to Flinders Street Station.  A hearing date is yet to be set by the Commission. 

 

Macedon Ranges Shire 

In Macedon Ranges, the Romsey community faces another application for the Romsey Hotel, after successfully seeing off an application for 30 machines from a 5-year battle which took them to the Supreme Court in 2009. The new application is for 50 machines, and while the Hotel is still owned by the same publican, the application has come from Romsey Football and Netball Club, under a club license.  

 

The Shire hasn’t yet formed a position on the application, however a group of interested locals have banded together to form #KeepRomseyPokiesFree and you can find them on Instagram and Facebook. A hearing date has not yet been announced by the regulator, but the application is available on their website.  

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Wyndham City Council 

Hotel 520 on Sayers in Tarneit has applied for an additional 12 machines to take their total number to 77.  

 

The application was heard by the VGCCC in early November and sadly it was announced last week that the increase was granted. This was despite strong opposition from the Council and surrounding Councils, as well as a submission from the Alliance.  

 

Given the higher-than-average takings per machine at this venue, we believe this will have a significant impact on gambling harm in the local community.  

 

However, we note the conditions imposed include the requirement for a harm minimisation procedure approved by the Commission before installing the new machines and we hope that this would include measures that ultimately decrease the losses per machine and the harms associated with each machine. 

CSDEC

Voices for Gambling Reform’s New Project Officer calls for Volunteers

Austin Mackell - Voices for Gambling Reform’s New Project Officer

Austin joined our team in October, coming from a background in media and technology. He’s putting together an advisory council to start meeting in 2024. 

 

AGR is excited to announce Austin G Mackell as the new Project Coordinator of the Voices for Gambling Reform program. Voices is a program that’s been running since 2019, founded on the basis that those with lived experience of gambling harm are uniquely positioned to inform this process, and their testimonies and input should be included at every stage of the process. The project has enjoyed significant successes, providing valuable contributions arising out of lived experience, to royal commissions, legislative reviews and major national media.  

If you have lived experience with gambling harm - either as a gambler yourself or as an impacted other and would like to add your voice to the conversation, please sign up here, and we’ll get in touch with you. It’s all completely confidential and nothing you tell us will be shared without your explicit permission. For those who want to go the extra mile and help co-design the Voices project, there’s also plans to launch an advisory council, which is now taking expressions of interest.   

This is a great chance to get involved in the effort to reduce gambling harm in Australia. We need the insights and accounts of those who have experienced that harm firsthand. Don’t hesitate to get involved. If you have any questions, you can reach out to Austin directly by email at austin.mackell@agr.org.au  

calls for Volunteers

Share your
Voice

We invite you to share your personal experiences of gambling harm in Australia. Whether you've faced this challenge yourself or witnessed the struggles of someone close to you, your story has the power to inspire change and improve awareness.

 

We know that all communities are impacted by gambling, but the true impact is often hidden. Real stories from real people who’ve experienced gambling harm are a powerful vehicle for influencing social change. Your lived experience offers valuable insight into the consequences of gambling for our whole community. Your story will help us to advocate for change that benefits everyone.

 

You can remain anonymous if you prefer. Nothing will be shared or published without your consent.

 

Please write your story to us via Facebook or email us at info@agr.org.au

Share Your Voice

Could you be our next Board Member?

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is looking for new Board members with a commitment to excellence in governance and strategy.  

We especially welcome applications from those with lived experience of gambling harm, as well as those from traditionally marginalised communities.  

Board terms are three years, renewable once, and there is an expectation of about 8 hours a month of work, in addition to a two-hour Board meeting every two months. We are particularly looking for people with skills and networks in digital campaigning strategy and fundraising.  

If this sounds like you, please send a CV and one page letter expressing your interest by 22 December 2023 to info@agr.org.au.  

Board

Media Releases

Opinion Pieces

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Does anyone have a chance in a race against big gambling?

The Advocate

Rev Tim Costello

21 Feb 2024

Is Australia's political system corrupt?

Can money and power buy the outcomes it wants and do our political leaders yield to their influence if it aligns with their own personal interests or the interests of their party?

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Gambling reform in Tasmania is too important not have bipartisan support

Examiner newspaper

Rev Tim Costello

17 Feb 2024

If Tasmania successfully progresses with its plans to introduce a cashless pokies card, it will represent a 'gold standard' in reducing gambling harm.

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Online gambling does great harm. Why is government rolling the dice with public health?

Rev Tim Costello, Chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform

11 Jan 2024

When is a parliamentary inquiry not a real parliamentary inquiry? When the minister responsible decides to hold a series of private meetings, behind closed doors, with organisations that have a vested interest in the outcome – many of which didn’t bother to put in a submission to the public inquiry.

In The News

Does anyone have a chance in a race against big gambling?

Alliance For Gambling Reform

21 February 2024

Is Australia's political system corrupt?

Can money and power buy the outcomes it wants and do our political leaders yield to their influence if it aligns with their own personal interests or the interests of their party?

While it may not be possible to give a simple "yes" or "no" answer to such questions, there are gravely worrying trends emerging now about our system. Trends that should concern us all.

ACT prohibits poker machines in Molonglo

Canberra Daily

6 February 2024

Carol Bennett, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said her legislation proposes “a valid solution to a growing problem that is causing significant harm in the Canberra community”. The Alliance believes it should be implemented in other states and territories.

Gambling reform in Tasmania is too important not have bipartisan support

Alliance For Gambling Reform

17 February 2024

If Tasmania successfully progresses with its plans to introduce a cashless pokies card, it will represent a 'gold standard' in reducing gambling harm.

It's a move that is critically needed in Tasmania.

Why Brownlow betting ban was rejected

31 January 2024

The Alliance’s Tim Costello, has called on both the AFL and sports gambling firms to ban gambling on the league’s annual best and fairest award. This is as a police investigation into a former AFL umpire accused of sharing insider information drags on. “Round by round betting on the Brownlow should definitely be banned, it’s just ridiculous, it shouldn’t happen.”

Is ACT the Strictest State on Sports Betting?

The Canberra Times

13 February 2024

The Alliance for Gambling Reform suggests that such measures would enable ACT to act more effectively in the public's best interest and mitigate the contentious impact of sports betting.

Gamblers losing $23 million a day on the pokies

SBS News

8 January 2024

New data has found individuals in NSW lost $2.1 billion to poker machines in the third quarter of 2023. The Australian Hotels Association says any reform could put jobs at risk WHICH IS A MYTH. Alliance Chief Advocate Tim Costello advocated for the cashless card, and shared some interesting stats

Keep up to date with the latest news in Gambling Reform, and be part of the Conversation on Facebook|Twitter| LinkedIn

Media

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