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Welcome to our
JUNE
NEWSLETTER

Check out all our latest updates

6/2023

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Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

Message from the CEO

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is making a difference. We have seen real progress in gambling reform thanks to the tireless work and support of a growing movement for change. The last few weeks alone has seen:

  • three private members bills tabled in federal parliament to ban gambling ads

  • significant fines imposed on Crown Casino (to date now around $750m in total!)

  • a decision by the NT government not to grant 20 additional poker machine licenses in Alice Springs with community campaigning at an all-time high

  • a focus on the role of sporting codes in promoting gambling

  • calls for strengthened privacy legislation to protect our kids from gambling companies collecting their data (and we join in a Digital Rights Watch campaign)

  • several motions from Councils adopted at the Australian Local Government Association conference to reduce gambling harm

  • a campaign by local MLA Marisa Paterson in Canberra to make a new development ‘pokies free’

 

And then the Guardian banned all forms of gambling advertising globally – which meant not taking an estimated millions of dollars in advertising revenue!

The Alliance supports Rebekha Sharkie MP’s private members bill to provide a comprehensive ban on gambling advertising June 2023.

Left to right: Carol Bennett, Andrew Wiilkie MP, Kate Seselja, Rebekha Sharkie MP, Senator Jacqui Lambie and Senator David Pocock

With the Federal Inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm due to report any time now, it’s hard to imagine a more eventful time in gambling reform.

Now is the time to demand the Federal Government expand its response to gambling harm beyond just the communications portfolio and charge the health department with a role in reducing gambling harm (just as tobacco and alcohol are). We need to highlight the public health issues caused by gambling and spearhead the development of a comprehensive national strategy that encompasses prevention, awareness and education, treatment, and research. No such strategy exists for gambling.

We cannot ignore that gambling harm is not just financial - it is social, it impacts mental health, it leads to other health issues and too often it leads to suicide.

The Alliance believes that if we fail to tackle gambling as a public health issue, we will have failed to tackle gambling harm and learn the lessons from our successful harm reduction achievements with tobacco.

The question now is, will our political leaders be up to the task of finally addressing the significant harm caused by gambling in a country that leads the world in gambling losses?

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At Australian Local Government Association national conference meeting with councils dedicated to reducing gambling harm.

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

#End Gambling Ads hits Federal Parliament

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Senator David Pocock, Kate Seselja, Carol Bennett, Rebekha Sharkie MP, Senator Jacqui Lambie and Andrew Wilkie MP

This month we saw three Private Members Bills introduced to parliament to ban the broadcasting of gambling ads: the first by Zoe Daniel MP, Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton MP and Rebekha Sharkie MP.  Dr Sophie Scamps also shared a media release which spoke to Crossbenchers' call for stronger regulations for harmful product marketing. The Alliance commends the incredible work being done by our parliamentarians putting Bills forward and elevating this incredibly important issue that the community are demanding action on!

 

Anthony Albanese has now admitted his annoyance with gambling ads.  Treasurer Jim Chalmers also mentioned on Q&A that the government was ‘actively considering a ban’ on gambling ads.

There has been significant momentum and a shift in how politicians are talking about gambling advertisements. We are yet to see the Albanese government commit to reform but the Alliance anticipates that the national inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm will deliver recommendations to strengthen the current gambling advertising regulations as well as reforms on a number of fronts to address the growing harms due to online gambling in our community.

Crown Casino faces more fines

The Alliance was pleased to see the national regulator, AUSTRAC take action to redress the breaches from Crown in relation to money laundering and counter terriorism. Crown Melbourne and Perth have come to an agreement with AUSTRAC to pay a $450 million penalty. This fine has to be agreed to by the Federal Court on the 10-11th July 2023. This is the third biggest fine in Australian corporate history.
 

This fine is in addition to another Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission fine of Crown of $20m for improperly claiming tax deductions for promotional costs that were disguised as amounts paid out as winnings. You can find out more here.

See AUSTRAC’s Media release here
You can read AGR’s media release here

Help us #End Gambling Ads!

It’s no secret that gambling advertising has increased exponentially in recent years and this has significantly impacted how a whole generation are experiencing sport.
 

The Alliance recently asked our supporters how many times they would estimate seeing a gambling ad during an AFL or NRL match. 46% said up to 10 times, 45% said between 11 and 20 times, and 19% said more than 19 in a match! We perceive gambling ad numbers to be high and harmful and they are. It is time for change!

Show your support by signing the petition to help #End Gambling Ads here.

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Northern Territory poker machine moratorium decision  

The Northern Territory Government came to a decision to lower the cap for poker machines allowed in new venues.


While it is a good outcome as there will not be an increase in poker machine venues, this does allow for two applications at two hotels for a ‘top up’ of poker machines from 10 to 20 (which is the maximum number allowed in hotels in the NT).

The decision on these applications will be made by the NT Department over the coming weeks.  The Alliance has urged the government to reject these applications based on the significant community opposition and existing community challenges facing Alice Springs.
You can read our media release here.  

Proposed new mandatory minimum classifications for gambling-like content in computer games

The Alliance made a submission to the federal government on the proposed new mandatory minimum classification for gambling-like content in computer games. We advocated for significant improvements to the scheme including gambling like features and loot boxes being classified as R18+ and for phone apps with gambling like features to have harm prevention measures such as age verification. You can read the Alliance's submission here:

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/have-your-say/proposed-new-mandatory-minimum-classifications-gambling-content-computer-games

Guardian to end all gambling advertising globally!

The Alliance is delighted to see the leadership being show by the Guardian, who have announced a global ban on all forms of gambling advertising citing “it is unethical to take money from services that can lead to “addiction and financial ruin”.

You can read the full story here

This decision is a watershed moment, applying to all of their online, audio, video, and print mediums. We look forward to seeing other media follow suit.

Alliance calls for major privacy overhaul alongside Digital Rights Watch

The Alliance has joined Digital Rights Watch and a number of partner organisations in a letter to the Attorney General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, Minister for Social Services the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP and Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP to call for bold reform to the Privacy Act to protect children and all of us from harmful data-driven business practices.

 

The Alliance has also provided a submission to the review.
 

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Help us to
End Gambling Ads

When it comes to gambling reform in Australia, the last 12 months has seen a real shift in attitude and interest, but the next twelve months are pivotal.

 

Some key progress includes the imminent release of the federal government's report and recommendations from the inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm, Crown Melbourne oversight by the Office of the Special Manager coming to an end and the continued implementation of the NSW Government’s election promises.

 

There has never been stronger community and political support for a ban on gambling ads and the exploitative nature of the poker machine industry is finally being scrutinised.

 

We have never been so close to reforms that will change how gambling impacts our communities.

You can join us and make a difference to the kind of communities our children and grandchildren will grow up in.

Will you donate to the Alliance for Gambling Reform this end of the financial year?

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

Have your Say on Gambling Harm Reduction in Victoria

The Victorian Government is currently holding a new inquiry and is inviting public input on liquor licensing, compliance, and gambling harm.

The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee is also looking into online gambling applications- not just Crown Melbourne.

 

You can provide your comments to the Alliance (info@agr.org.au) or make your own public submission by Friday 7 July 2023.

Inquiry into the Victorian Auditor-General’s reports no. 99: Follow up of Regulating Gambling and Liquor (2019) and no. 213: Reducing the Harm Caused by Gambling (2021)

The Alliance’s Online Gambling Policy

The Alliance has just published our online gambling policy which includes 21 recommendations for urgent change to Australia’s online gambling laws which are among the weakest in the world.  Read about it in The Guardian here. 

 

Read our media release here and to read the policy in full click here.

Focus on
Local Government in
gambling harm reduction

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Every year delegates from councils from around Australia gather in Canberra for the National General Assembly. This year was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with so many of our passionate Leadership Councils and Councillors. We had great discussions about how we can work together to ensure gambling harm is approached as a public health issue in Australia.

The importance of preventing gambling harm to the local government sector in Australia was evident through motions raised by Manningham Council and Brimbank Council which tackled gambling advertising, the ownership of poker machines by political parties, removal of DGR status by charities that own or operate gambling entities, a buy-back scheme for machine licenses and the establishment of a national regulator for all gambling.

Regardless of who we spoke to, whichever state or territory they were from - rural, regional or metropolitan, gambling is sadly an issue in their community, and one they feel has been left to run rampant.

Thanks to the Local Government sector from around Australia for standing up for their communities on this and so many other issues – as the level of government closest to the community your input and efforts on preventing gambling harm are critical to our shared success.

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Voices
for Gambling Reform

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The month of May began with a bang at the Public Health Conference in Adelaide on Gambling Harm.

This was an important event to help close the gap and have gambling harm properly recognised as the public health crisis that it is. It brought together many of our lived experience voices, together with researchers, media, health and political perspectives, to highlight the many aspects of gambling harm.

As Voices Manager, Kate Seselja attended the Community Council for Australia AGM and was able to ask Minister Leigh about how gambling harm would be addressed as part of the federal government’s wellbeing budget.

 

Several voices have been in the media and will be featured in the coming weeks on various platforms. 

There is never a dull moment and several new voices have emerged with inspiring ideas of how to creatively address gambling harm awareness, so watch this space in the coming months.

Kate Seselja, Carol Bennett, Amanda Power (Board member), and Nick Nguyen attending a meeting at Parliament House Canberra

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

Labor urged to outlaw betting ‘rewards’ luring Australians into gambling

Labor urged to outlaw betting ‘rewards’ luring Australians into gambling

The Guardian

9 July 2024

The Alliance for Gambling Reform blamed weak advertising and consumer protection laws for the promotions it says are carefully designed to make customers believe they are placing “safer” bets and that a win is more likely.

Queensland LNP promises to increase pokies cap for clubs with more than two premises

Queensland LNP promises to increase pokies cap for clubs with more than two premises

ABC News

2 July 2024

n the 2022-23 financial year, Queenslanders lost more than more than $5 billion to gambling — of which about $3.2 billion was lost through poker machines.

Alliance for Gambling Reform interim chief executive Martin Thomas said his organisation was opposed to the proposal to increase the cap on gaming machines at clubs with multiple sites.

A third of Australian bets found to be placed by problem gamblers amid warning of ‘predatory’ industry

A third of Australian bets found to be placed by problem gamblers amid warning of ‘predatory’ industry

The Guardian

25 June 2024

The polling implied 3.26 million Australians had made a sports wager in the year to March – more than double the 7% found to have bet between April 2019 and March 2020.

The results were released on Tuesday by the Alliance for Gambling Reform to mark the first anniversary of a major parliamentary report calling for a ban on online gambling ads and making other recommendations.

‘Wasted opportunity’: No recommendation on cashless gaming in ACT inquiry report

‘Wasted opportunity’: No recommendation on cashless gaming in ACT inquiry report

RiotACT

3 July 2024

Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate Tim Costello said there is no need for a trial.

“The evidence is overwhelming that cashless gaming works,” Reverend Costello said.

“The 1999 Productivity Commission report recommended the introduction of mandatory cashless cards.

“Canberra always boasts about how progressive it is, but it’s still dragging its feet for 25 years on cashless gaming.

“ACT and NSW Labor have $120 million of assets in pokies clubs. It’s the most obvious and horrible conflict.”

A third of Australian bets found to be placed by problem gamblers amid warning of ‘predatory’ industry

A third of Australian bets found to be placed by problem gamblers amid warning of ‘predatory’ industry

The Guardian

27 June 2024

Roy Morgan polling of 16,000 Australians found 15.5% had bet on sport in the 12 months to March. It also revealed problem gamblers made up almost 20% of some sports betting companies’ customer base. The results were released on Tuesday by the Alliance for Gambling Reform to mark the first anniversary of a major parliamentary report calling for a ban on online gambling ads and making other recommendations. The group’s Interim CEO, Martin Thomas said: “These are huge numbers and they highlight how a predatory online gambling industry is ensnaring a whole new generation into gambling.

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