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JULY
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Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

Message from the CEO

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has yet again been involved in delivering some major milestones for gambling reform in the last month.
 

The long anticipated Federal Inquiry Report into online gambling, You win some, you lose more was released by the Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, Peta Murphy. The unanimous agreement of the bipartisan committee to all 31 recommendations was a watershed moment in gambling reform.

The report received significant media attention and was headlined by a ban on all forms of gambling advertising to be phased in over 3 years. Other noteworthy recommendations include a ban on inducements, the need for a single federal government minister, a national strategy with national regulation and harm reduction funded by a levy on industry.

The Alliance’s submission and evidence is quoted throughout the report, and we have welcomed its national focus and many of the recommendations which closely reflected our policy positions. We look forward to working with the federal government as it implements the findings.

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Rev Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, Carol Bennett, CEO, Rose O'Leary, Advocacy and Policy Lead, Rebecca Paterson, Councils and Supporters Coordinator giving evidence to the Victorian Parliament Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Inquiry.

The Alliance also welcomed the long-awaited announcement of the national self-exclusion scheme, BetStop which will be officially launched on 21 August 2023, allowing anyone to voluntarily block themselves from all 150 legal Australian gambling sites. The new register will prevent gambling companies from contacting excluded people with inducements or other marketing material.

Another important gambling reform ‘moment’ was the announcement by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday 16 July 2023 that Victoria will be introducing sweeping changes including fixed closing hours of any pub or club’s gambling area from 4am to 10am, no more than $100 load up limits at a time and spin rates slowed to 3 seconds. The proposed introduction of a mandatory pre-commitment system is also a major step forward – albeit its effectiveness relates to the inclusion of key features (e.g. loss limits) and implementation timeframes which are yet to be determined.

Victoria is also moving to improve gambling regulation following the release by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission’s (VGCCC) position statement setting out a harm reduction approach to gambling. There is also a new ‘tip off’ scheme in Victoria; the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee review of the Victorian Auditor General Office report recommendations (which the Alliance provided a submission and evidence to); ongoing active advocacy from many of our leadership councils and those with lived experience, and the Office of Special Manager’s report on progress on the review of Crown.
 

So much going on in gambling reform – some of our leaders now seem to be getting the memo about the harm gambling is causing for individuals, families and communities. There is still a lot of work for us all to do, and while the pace of change is increasing, real reform to reduce gambling harm cannot come fast enough.
 

Thanks to all involved at the Alliance and all our supporters – we are making a difference.

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

Federal Inquiry “You win some, you lose more”

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This month saw the release of the landmark Federal Inquiry Report into online gambling: You win some, you lose more.

This report highlights the extent of harm related to online gambling and shifting public attitudes as well as recognition from those from all political persuasions that more needs to be done to protect the community from gambling harm. 

 

Many of the recommendations closely reflect those in the Alliance’s submission. We welcome this outcome and will advocate for the Federal Government to adopt all recommendations and take a public health approach to any action to address the findings from this inquiry.


To find out more you can read the full report here: You win some, you lose more – Parliament of Australia.
 

Our media release: here.
 

Our response to specific recommendations here:  You win some, you lose more – online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm. The Alliance’s response to the recommendations.

The Alliance also provided a submission to the inquiry. You can read our submission here. Our Voices for Gambling Reform provided a separate submission you can find here.

Want to take action?

Following the recommendations from the online gambling inquiry we're urging people to contact their local federal MP to commit to all of the recommendations immediately!

Will you send an email to your MP? We've made it super easy on our website below: 

Online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm | ALLIANCE FOR GAMBLING REFORM (agr.org.au)

From left to right: Anna Bardsley, Voices for Gambling Reform Coordinator, Premier Daniel Andrews, Alliance lived experience advocate and Carolyn Crawford Minister Melissa Horne. Credit: Supplied/Victorian Government

Significant and meaningful reforms
in Victoria

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We applaud the Victorian government for its unexpected poker machine reforms announced by Premier Andrews and Minister Horne on Sunday 16 July 2023.

The reforms include fixed closing hours of any pub or club’s gambling area from 4am to 10am, no more than $100 loaded up at a time, and spin rates slowed to 3 seconds.

 

The Alliance understands that Victoria also plans to introduce a mandatory pre-commitment system with set loss limits following stakeholder consultation. We are particularly excited about this, but the details including the timing will be critical to determine how effective this is at reducing harm in Victoria.

  

Other reforms include changes to education, training and counselling services.  The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation will be disbanded in this new arrangement.

Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister Melissa Horne and Alliance lived experience advocate, Carolyn Crawford (centre) at the launch of the reforms. Credit: Supplied/Victorian Government

Alliance lived experience advocate, Carolyn Crawford, spoke at the launch providing moving testimony about the impact these new reforms will have. You can read her powerful story here.

To find out more about the raft of reforms, see our media release.

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Alliance lived experience advocate, Carolyn Crawford congratulates Premier Daniel Andrews  

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From left to right: Ann Bardsley, Voices for Gambling Reform Coordinator, Premier Daniel Andrews, Alliance lived experience advocate, Carolyn Crawford and Minister Melissa Horne a Credit: Supplied/Victorian Government

BetStop

The Alliance was delighted to see the Federal Government announce the launch of the long overdue BetStop – the national self-exclusion register.

BetStop will allow anyone to voluntarily block themselves from all 150 legal Australian gambling sites with just one form to fill in.


It will also ban any online gambling companies from contacting excluded people with inducements or other marketing material.

 

Self-exclusion can be for periods ranging from 3 months to indefinite exclusion.

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It will be launched on 21 August 2023 and the Alliance encourages anyone who wishes to voluntarily self-exclude to sign up. Of course, we also welcome any and all feedback on the implementation of the scheme.

You can find out more and pre-sign up for BetStop here.

You can read our Media Release here.

 

Ministers Rishworth and Rowland’s media release is available in full here.

Help us to
End Gambling Ads

With significant changes on the horizon following the online gambling inquiry recommendations and the Victorian announcement, we need your support to expand our work now more than ever and to help us continue and grow this critical work.

Direct debit donations are also graciously accepted.

 

The Alliance for Gambling Reform Inc as a registered public health charity with DGR Status.
Donations are tax deductible.


As always, thank you for supporting our work to make Australia a safer and fairer nation.

 

If you wish to make a donation via bank transfer

Alliance For Gambling Reform Inc

Bank Australia

BSB: 313-140

Account Number: 12137211

NSW ‘independent panel’ announced

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In contrast to the developments in Victoria, the NSW government announced an ‘independent panel’ to oversee the proposed trial of its cashless gambling card on 500 NSW machines.

The 16-member panel includes four industry delegates and, at the time of its launch, nobody with lived experience of gambling harm.

 

Led by former NSW Liquor, Gaming and Racing Commissioner Michael Foggo, former Labor senator Ursula Stephens and the former deputy leader of the NSW Nationals Niall Blair, the new panel was promoted as ‘independent’ with representatives from industry, law enforcement, academia, gambling and health. 


The panel has until November 2024 to report, something the Alliance has been highly critical of. Chief Advocate Tim Costello called on the NSW Premier to step up to the challenge of introducing a cashless gambling card, just as Premier Andrews has done in Victoria. He noted the potential for NSW to become the ‘hub’ of crime and money laundering if the NSW government lags behind its state counterparts. CEO Carol Bennett called it a ‘missed opportunity’ while Bel Downes (Alliance Voices for Gambling Reform) said a trial was better than no trial but that ‘we need to do this now, we need to implement a mandatory cashless card for these poker machines’.

This announcement has confirmed a ‘go-slow’ approach that kicks the can down the road – no doubt something the gambling industry is comfortable with. In a state with among the highest gambling losses in the world, NSW can hardly afford this delay.

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Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO, Carol Bennett (centre), Rose O'Leary, Advocacy and Policy Lead and Rev Tim Costello, Chief Advocate giving evidence at the Victorian Parliament Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Inquiry

Victorian Parliament Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Inquiry

The Alliance has made a submission with 16 recommendations to this inquiry. The bi-partisan committee is reviewing the progress of audits by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) into both the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) and Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF).

VAGO had recommended a number of measures to improve the effectiveness of these organisations and how they reduce harm from gambling.

 

Carol Bennett, Rev Tim Costello and Rose O’Leary provided evidence in person at the hearing on 25 July 2023.

The Victorian regulator announces
position on gambling harm

On 21 June 2023, the VGCCC released a position statement on harm minimisation. 

 

The Alliance was joined by representatives from across the community sector as Deputy Commissioner Ron Ben-David and Deputy CEO Scott May sent a shot across the bow of industry noting its duty to care for customers and the community. The statement outlines key principles:

 

  1. Our harm minimisation objective guides all our regulatory decisions, actions and expectations.

  2. Gambling causes harm.

  3. Recovery from harm does not alter the causal role played by gambling.

  4. Harm is preventable.

  5. Gambling markets gravitate toward harmful offerings.

  6. Gambling regulation seeks to prevent harm.

  7. Gambling providers have a duty to care for their customers and their communities.

The full statement can be found here.

Victoria now has a 
tip off line

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Have you ever seen something about a gambling venue, a gambling ad, on a wagering site or anything else to do with gambling that doesn’t look right?

 

Now you can make an anonymous tip to the Regulator so they can be aware of potential issues. You won’t know how they follow it up, but your tip could lead to an investigation, prosecution and fine. There is no change to the existing complaint process.  You can make a detailed complaint which will receive a reply from the Commission if you are happy to include your name.

 

If it doesn’t seem right, it quite possibly isn’t – please take a couple of minutes and send through your tip.

 

Submit a tip-off | Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission 

Update on Crown Melbourne

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The Office of Special Manager (OSM) is reviewing the suitability of Crown Melbourne to hold a license to operate and has just released its 6-monthly report.

This extensive review covers a range of stakeholder meetings, monitoring Crown’s compliance, governance and complaints handling, as well as a plethora of reforms Crown must undergo.

These reforms include requiring customers to use casino-issued cards, verify their identity to gamble and participate in a mandatory pre-commitment scheme, which must be in place for all electronic gaming machines by the end of 2023; restricting the use of cash, and extending the requirement for customers to use casino-issued cards and verify their identity to gamble for all other games at the casino by December 2025.

 

The report also focuses on the ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of the projects and activities Crown is undertaking in response to the findings and recommendations of the Finkelstein Royal Commission in relation to cultural change, governance, risk management and compliance, responsible service of gambling, and preventing financial crime.
 

The Alliance regularly liaises with OSM and we eagerly await its findings to be forwarded to the VGCCC in January 2024. 


You can read the full report here.

 

The Federal Court also agreed upon the $450 million penalty for Crown’s “egregious” breaches of anti-money laundering laws. Read more here.

Voices for Gambling Reform

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Predatory industries  bombard families with ads during State of Origin

The Alliance has joined public health groups, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), Food for Health Alliance and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in calling for an end to harmful marketing in sport as a new analysis shows a quarter of sponsorships of the 2023 State of Origin are by companies that profit from alcohol, gambling and unhealthy foods.

The analysis by FARE found 16 harmful product sponsorships of the NSW and Queensland State of Origin Teams and the Series, including seven alcohol company sponsorships, seven unhealthy food and two gambling company sponsorships;
25 percent of all sponsors.

Read our joint media release here.

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With all the media attention being given to gambling recently, there have been a lot of opportunities for our lived experience Voices to speak out about what happened to them and what they think needs to change.

 

No one is more passionate about the need for change than those who have been harmed by the predatory practices of the gambling industry and the inaction of governments to safeguard users for so many years. We can't change our past, but we want to change the present and the future for others.
 

Some of the lived experience advocates who work within the Voices for Gambling Reform program are able to speak publicly, be seen on TV and then there are others who cannot or do not want to. It is important that those who do not wish to be very public are still heard.

 

A big shout out to those who share their stories with us including 'Anonymous’ who recently wrote a powerful opinion piece in the Guardian arguing for reform.
 

Local Government leads the way

Victorian Councils must be applauded for their advocacy to the Victorian Government this year on mandatory cashless gambling. There is no doubt that this put the discussion at the forefront of the Victorian government’s agenda, culminating in the landmark reforms announced on 16 July 2023.

 

Thank you to all of those councillors who champion gambling reform for their community and the council officers who make sure gambling advocacy continues to be a priority. The partnerships and coordination between councils representing their communities and the Alliance over many years has driven this change in Victoria.

 

We have seen reactions in the media from a number of councils, a selection of which you can read below.

 

 

And there’s a marvellous piece by long time gambling reform campaigner and Manningham Councillor Stephen Mayne, which goes into a bit more detail than many other articles on the announcement.

 

It was great to meet some Councillors and officers face to face, and many others who attended online at our workshop with Financial Counselling Australia’s Lauren Levin, who is back from her Churchill Fellowship tour of 8 European countries where she studied the differences in gambling regulation contributing to Australia’s high losses.

What’s the difference, you may ask? Lauren points to one key thing... political will!
 

 










Also great to see City of Dandenong making the decision to limit advertising on Council sports grounds, and City of Monash Councillor Stuart James talking about their public health approach to gambling policy which bans advertising by clubs and groups receiving council funding or using council land. Both are approaches that many councils are considering as they review their own gambling policies in the coming months.

Media Releases

Opinion Pieces

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Can we really trust clubs to help gamblers?

The Canberra Times

Martin Thomas

20 June 2024

The ACT is among the most advanced in the country in pushing towards a mandatory, cashless gambling card.

Evidence shows such a card with pre-set and binding limits will be the best weapon we have in effectively curbing gambling harm.

And according to the NSW Crime Commission it will not only limit gambling harm but it will also tackle the billions of dollars from the proceeds of crime that is fed into poker machines across the country every year.

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Gambling industry now targeting and grooming children

The Canberra Times

Martin Thomas

13 June 2024

Our kids are being deliberately targeted and groomed by the gambling industry.

A new pilot study released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education last week revealed children as young as 14 were being targeted by social media ads urging them to download gambling apps on their phones.

In The News

Pokies clubs are meant to use a tax break for good. But this is what they spent $242m on

Pokies clubs are meant to use a tax break for good. But this is what they spent $242m on

The Sydney Morning Herald

17 June 2024

Victorian pokies clubs are using hundreds of millions of dollars from a lucrative tax break to pay for wages, venue decorations and pay-TV subscriptions, prompting calls for the state government to overhaul the concession.

In Victoria, club venue operators receive a favourable tax rate compared with hotels, but must contribute a proportion of their net gaming machine revenue – 8.33 per cent – back to the community each financial year.

BWS gains licence for New South Wales lottery sales

BWS gains licence for New South Wales lottery sales

Focus

22 May 2024

Three BWS stores have secured a licence to sell lottery products in Sydney.

The move was criticised by the Gambling Reform Alliance. It says lottery should not have more lenient treatment than other forms of gambling, noting that a study published in the Addictive Behaviors journal said nearly one-third of people who exclusively gamble on lotteries are at some level of risk related to gambling.

Cruise Line Faces Backlash After Man Commits Suicide Following Casino Losses

Cruise Line Faces Backlash After Man Commits Suicide Following Casino Losses

Casino

16 May 2024

It’s really concerning that when a ship sails 12 nautical miles off the coast it can allow anything and everything to happen,” Carol Bennett, the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told Daily Mail Australia. “You would expect this cruise line would have some kind of duty of care to ensure that people are not plied with inducements, promotions, and advertisements that are pushing them to gamble to extremely harmful levels.”

The power of the people will change this

The power of the people will change this

Community Radio Geelong

10 June 2024

In this radio interview Interim CEO Martin Thomas joins Rob Cameron to discuss the pressing issues surrounding gambling:

👥 The profound social consequences and personal impacts of gambling.
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 The devastating ripple effects of gambling harm on families and friends.
💸 The millions spent by gambling companies to use the latest technology to make games addictive.
😡 The rising public outrage, particularly concerning gambling advertisements.
📣 The importance of amplifying #VoicesForGamblingReform and their crucial stories.
📑 The urgent need to act on the Peta Murphy report and its 31 recommendations.
🚫 The necessity of addressing political donations from gambling companies.
🗣️ How the community can raise their voices against gambling harm.

Increasing availability of lottery tickets and scratchies is 'normalising' gambling, advocates say

Increasing availability of lottery tickets and scratchies is 'normalising' gambling, advocates say

ABC News

21 May 2024

Many consider buying a lotto ticket every now and then a harmless activity and scratchies are often shared as gifts. However, Gambling Reform Alliance chief executive Carol Bennett said the risks of lotteries should not be underestimated.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform argued lotteries should not be treated more leniently than other betting activities.

Canberra club members believed to be spared worst of data breach

Canberra club members believed to be spared worst of data breach

RiotACT

3 May 2024

The Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) took the opportunity to “spotlight the need for cashless gambling cards”. “This breach highlights just how unaccountable clubs are and how haphazard they are with the mountain of private information they routinely collect from the public – without direct consent,” CEO Carol Bennett said.

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