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Welcome back for 2023
Our first newsletter of the year highlights what has been an eventful start to the year, especially in the lead up to the NSW state election. Gambling is a key election issue, and we have seen more meaningful debate and commitment to gambling reform in the space of a month than would usually occur over a year!
We have seen Premier Perrottet commit to cashless gambling, albeit with limitations including the timeframes too long and default limits not enforced. Opposition leader Chris Minns is maintaining his commitment to another limited trial of cashless gambling in some pubs and clubs. Greens and some key independents have committed to cashless gambling.
The Alliance released our formal cashless gambling policy outlining a 14 point plan based on the evidence of what is likely to be most effective. We also launched our own campaign encouraging and providing resources to our supporters to write to their local Labor MP or candidate. Our public and media advocacy (including dozens of media interviews by our Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello and a large number of published opinion pieces and interviews) has been at an all-time high.
So too, losses to gambling have hit an all-time high. NSW Liquor and Gaming figures show a $2.1b loss in 92 days between July and September!
On a positive note, it has been affirming to see the chorus of voices including public health organisations from the Australian Medical Association and Australasian College of Surgeons to the Public Health Association of Australia take up the baton and support our cashless gambling policy and the broader need for gambling reform.
On a broader level, the issue of political donations received some attention when figures were released by the Australian Electoral Commission highlighted the extent of contributions from gambling and alcohol companies. We joined with the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) to call for a ban on political donations that put profits ahead of public health.
The coming months promise plenty of action at the federal government level when it comes to online gambling and advertising as well as the roll out of the National Consumer Protection Framework. The long awaited Betstop! national self-exclusion program will shortly be launched. The inquiry into online gambling is currently hearing from witnesses and will report its findings in May.
And you will have an exciting opportunity to participate in the Alliance’s joint forum with the Public Health Association of Australia on 1 May: Social Justice meets public health: tackling gambling harm in Australia. More details in this edition.
I hope that our next newsletter will headline a new era in gambling reform post the NSW election.
The Hon Dominic Perrottet, Premier of New South Wales and
Chris Minns, NSW Labor Leader
There have been some remarkable changes in gambling reform in NSW, with Premier Perrottet committing to state wide cashless gambling by 2028 if elected at the March state election.
The opposition leader, Chris Minns has been cold on gambling reform, offering only a small trial of 500 poker machines. The Greens and a number of independents have been impressive in their commitment to real gambling reform in NSW.
Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening, and what it means on a national level.
October 2022: The National Crime Commission released a damning report into money laundering and made strong recommendations to reduce crime in the community.
December 2022: Premier Perrottet calls for gambling reform as a result of the Royal Commissions into Casinos and the NSW Crime Commission report.
January 2023: record losses in NSW pubs and clubs were experienced, with the harm equating to $2 billion dollars in losses in the third quarter of 2022 and daily losses of over $23 million being recorded.
January 2023: Opposition leader Chris Minns launched Labor’s gambling reform policy, including calling for a 12 month trial of cashless gambling in select pubs and clubs in NSW.
February, 2023: Premier Perrottet called a snap cabinet meeting, with agreement that all poker machines in NSW will be cashless by 2028 if elected at the March state election. You can read more about Premier Perrottet's announcement here.
These events are a powerful catalyst nationwide with encouraging signs in Tasmania (with their bi-partisan support for a cashless system). The Alliance is hopeful that other jurisdictions will cease to ignore the evidence and the tide of public opinion and enact real reform to reduce gambling harm.
This month, the Alliance launched our cashless gambling policy calling for mandatory pre-set limits, single user cards, and a ban on use of credit. We were pleased to see the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Australian Medical Association and the Public Health Association of Australia supporting our cashless gambling policy. You can read our cashless gambling policy here.
Immediate action needed in NSW
The NSW election is less than six weeks away and pleasingly gambling reform is one of the key issues. The Alliance 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 on preventing and minimising gambling harm in the most impacted state in Australia.
Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced a cashless policy to be enacted by 2028.
Opposition leader Chris Minns’s proposed gambling harm reduction strategy calls for yet another 12 month trial, with less that 0.6% of the state’s poker machines being cashless during the trial period.
Will you contact your local NSW Labor MP or candidate, calling for real reform and commitment to a cashless system? We don’t need more trials.
You can find their emails, and a draft of what you may wish to say to call for commitment for real reform (though we encourage you to write also in your own words).
Visit https://www.agr.org.au/23nswelection to take action today.
Annually on 1 February, the Australian Electoral Commission publishes the political donations of the previous financial year. The Alliance and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) analysed the data and found that gambling and alcohol companies and their lobby groups donated $2.165 million to Australia's major political parties, a 40% increase on the previous year.
Alliance and FARE CEOs, Carol Bennett and Caterina Giorgi called for a ban on political donations from gambling and alcohol companies. Harmful industries such as gambling and alcohol are buying influence and the Alliance and FARE strongly advocate for prioritising the health and wellbeing of the community ahead of the interests of gambling and alcohol industries. Read more here.
Social justice meets public health: tackling gambling harm in Australia
The Alliance and PHAA (Public Health Association of Australia) are thrilled to be co-hosting the Social justice meets public health: tackling gambling harm in Australia workshop, as part of the national Preventative Health Conference.
Our speaker line up includes politicians, leading experts in public health, those with lived experience, social justice and leading researchers and academics.
Hosted in Adelaide (with virtual attendance available), this workshop is not to be missed.
Tickets are limited. The program is available at https://www.prevention2023.com/gambling-harm-workshop
get rid of last Poker Machines
It is fantastic to see Tasmania continuing to show leadership on gambling reform.
Last month, RSL Tasmania removed the last poker machines from their Devonport Club, meaning that all RSL Clubs in Tasmania are now proudly poker machine free!
This leads the way for more states and territories throughout Australia to remove poker machines from their pubs and clubs.
You can find out more in The Mercury’s article: RSL Tasmania becoming pokies free with removal of Devonport machines
Meet Voices for Gambling Reform Manager Kate Seselja
Hi everyone, I'm Kate and I recently joined the AGR Team as Manager of the Voices for Reform program.
I work alongside the amazing Anna Bardsley and continue to develop the work of all the incredible people before me who were passionate about Voices for Gambling Reform and understood the power of lived experience.
A decade ago, I decided to use my voice and I stepped out of the shadow of shame that kept me feeling separate and ‘less than’ for over 12 years. I reclaimed my 'humanness' and began to learn more about the gambling industry and their predatory practices that exploit people for profit.
I reframed my experience and now see that period as years that I accumulated important information that I have used to create change. I am very proud of the impact that my voice has had in changing policy, language and attitudes towards addressing gambling harm in the ACT.
As we move into 2023, an opportunity for change is upon us as the pokie stronghold of NSW faces an election for the first time ever. Gambling harm has been acknowledged and pressure to create meaningful reform is front and centre.
I am so grateful for this new opportunity to work with the Voices for Gambling Reform - every single voice and experience matters in this space. We need to continue to elevate the power of lived experience.
I look forward to engaging with all the Voices already in the program and I am excited to create an Australia that is free of gambling harm.
Betstop! Coming soon
The long awaited BetStop! Is the National Self-Exclusion Register hosted by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA). is expected to be launched very soon.
It is a free service, which allows people to voluntarily self-exclude from all legal online or phone wagering operations in Australia in one simple process.
This includes TAB, sports gambling companies, and on-course bookmakers. It’s also worth noting that all data is securely stored by an independent third party, who by law is required to be totally independent of the industry.
Exclusion periods can be nominated from 3 months to permanent exclusion; with up to 5 nominated support people able to assist people through self-exclusion.
Once registered, people are excluded from placing any bets, opening any accounts, and from receiving any promotions from all 150 licensed wagering providers in Australia.
We will keep you updated on progress with BetStop. You can find out more here.
Want to keep up to date with our Media Releases?
You can read them here
PM must act on minister conflicted by Sportsbet donations
Public can no longer have faith in Rowland presiding over gambling issues
9 February 2023
Perrottet’s poker machines reforms a watershed
Minns can still show leadership and back cashless card
6 February 2023
Gambling industry’s $10m fighting fund to scuttle reform ‘obscene’ - Alliance urgently needs funds to win poker machine reform fight
3 February 2023
New paper sets out blueprint for cashless gambling card
31 January 2023
Misinformation, bullying and dirty-tricks campaign to stop gambling reform must be condemned - Call for NSW electoral commission to investigate
14 December 2022
People need protection from gaming excesses
The Australian Financial Review
Carol Bennett, AGR CEO
24 Mar 2023
Joe Aston has laid bare the hypocrisy and delusion of the leaders of our rapidly growing gambling sector (“Sportsbet CEO Barni Evans is kidding himself”, Rear Window, March 23). It should surprise nobody that the CEO of a foreign-owned online gambling company is seen to put profits before the welfare of Australians.
Gambling is the new tobacco, it's time we took urgent action
The Canberra Times
By Carol Bennett
1 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.
In The News
Gambling ‘false hope’ for mortgage shortfall, flags Costello
25 January 2023
To what extent is gambling affecting loan repayments? That’s “a really good question,” said anti-gambling campaigner, the Reverend Tim Costello.
Relieving stress and rising consumer costs mean two things prosper: “gambling and eating more chocolate,” according to Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate, the Reverend Tim Costello.
Speaking to Mortgage Business, Mr Costello highlighted the impact that the rising interest-rate environment could be having on Australian borrowers - particularly on those who gamble.
“Gambling almost certainly [affects loan payments] because people have an attitude of ‘I'm stuffed anyway, I might be able to make this mortgage gap with a win’, he explained.
Opinion: Our Pubs Are Sh*t, Sydney. I’m Sorry To Be the One To Say It, But It’s the Simple and Honest Truth
23 January 2023
I’m often asked, as the CEO of one of the only pub groups in Sydney that doesn’t operate poker machines, what on earth I’m thinking. A fair question, really, given that our state carries the second highest quota of so-called “brickie’s laptops” in the world, behind only Las Vegas. It’s also leading the way in Australia – NSW has half of the nation’s pokies.
NSW Labor devising plan to combat problem gambling, says senior frontbencher
The Sydney Moring Herald
5 January 2023
Senior NSW Labor frontbencher Ryan Park insists the opposition is not opposed to a cashless gaming card after the state’s top union boss made a dramatic intervention into the gambling debate and backed Premier Dominic Perrottet’s reform plans.
Call for cashless gambling
10 February 2023
The push from the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) follows an announcement from New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet that all pubs and clubs in the state must introduce cashless gaming systems across all poker machines by 2028.
In December , Hume residents spent more than $12 million on pokies, up on the prior two months by at least $470,000. In Sunbury, more than $11.5 million was lost on poker machines across six clubs between July and December last year.
Perrottet’s poker machine revolution passes snap meeting of cabinet
The Sydney Morning Herald
5 February 2023
All poker machines in NSW will be cashless within five years after Premier Dominic Perrottet’s long-promised gambling reforms passed a snap meeting of cabinet.
After months of contentious public debate, and tension within the Coalition, the most significant overhaul to gambling since poker machines were legalised in the state in 1956 will include a range of financial support measures for clubs and pubs to introduce the new technology, as well as a specific regional transition fund.
AFL 2023: League open to hypocrisy criticism over lack of action against Tarryn Thomas
24 January 2023
The AFL has been savaged for “hypocrisy” in “casting aside a young umpire” accused of Brownlow Medal leaks while taking no action against troubled North Melbourne star Tarryn Thomas.
Thomas, 22, was charged last week with a single count of threatening to distribute an intimate image following a three-month police investigation over a dispute with an ex-girlfriend.
RSLs across Australia urged to follow Tasmania and cut ties with pokies
20 January 2023
Anti-gambling campaigners have urged RSL sub-branches and affiliated clubs around the country to follow the Tasmanian organisation’s lead and completely divest from poker machines.
The last Tasmanian sub-branch with poker machines, Devonport, has agreed to remove its machines by the middle of the year, in return for more financial support for veterans services from the state branch.
the Alliance for Gambling Reform
We have an unprecedented opportunity to advocate for changes which could completely change the gambling landscape in Australia. In New South Wales gambling reform is a key election issue and the Alliance is taking this opportunity to strongly advocate for change in NSW and across the country.
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Alliance for Gambling Reform Inc is a registered public health charity, with endorsed DGR Status. All donations are tax deductible.
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