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Martin Thomas

Interim CEO

Message from the CEO

We continue to witness changes across Australia that seek to limit gambling harm in our community. 

These changes, such as the Federal Government move this month to ban the use of credit cards for gambling, are a tribute to you raising your voice against gambling harm and also your support of the Alliance for Gamlbing Reform. 

Yet the actions by governments across the nation are still far short of where it must be. They also fail to reflect the white-hot anger that people across our communities have towards the bombardment of gambling adverts across our screens. 

It has now been more than 12 months since the Federal Government received the Murphy Report – the parliamentary report into online gambling. The report included 31 recommendations, including a moderate and reasonable 3-year, phased-in ban on all gambling advertising.   

If the government adopted all of these recommendations it would mark a once-in-a-generation blow to gambling harm in Australia. 

The Alliance urges all Federal Parliamentarians to support all the recommendations of the Murphy Report so that we can be protected from a predatory gambling industry and protect our kids who are being groomed to gamble. 

I hope you enjoy reading this edition of our newsletter.  This month, our feature articles are:  

1.    Clubs rorting community grants scheme 
2.    Preventing gambling-related suicides 
3.    Another horrendous casino failure! 
4.    Can we really trust clubs to help gamblers? 
5.    Gambling industry now targeting and grooming children 
6.    Still no ban on gambling ads

Thank you to everyone who has generously donated to the Alliance over the past month.


If you would like to donate before the end of the financial year – there is still time!


All donations over $2.00 are tax-deductible.


Remember, that even the smallest donation makes a powerful impact!


Thank you for your support.

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Clubs rorting community grants scheme

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

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has analysed the grants provided by Victorian clubs with poker machines last financial year, and more than 77 per cent – or $241.7 million collectively – was spent on staff wages and meals, legal fees, council rates, pest control, and prizes for members. 

The audit shows that the 230 clubs participating in the scheme – including RSLs, golf clubs, and bowls clubs – also claimed the cost of security, pay-tv subscriptions, and even venue decorations as part of their community benefit statement.

While the claims are permitted under current tax rules, the Alliance believes the scheme is not working as it was intended. 

After calling on the Victorian Government to scrap the scheme, we are pleased to announce that the Victorian Government advised us this week that they will launch a review into the scheme.

Read more

Clubs rorting

Preventing gambling-related suicides

Members of Parliament, Rebekha Sharkie and Andrew Wilkie hosted an event for the Parliamentary Friends of Gambling Harm Reduction on Wednesday 5 June, with a focus on gambling-related suicides and the strategies and supports that could make a difference for people experiencing gambling harm.


Associate Professor Angela Rintoul, a specialist in gambling-related harm at Federation University, spoke about her research on gambling-related suicide, and told Parliamentarians that suicide is the tip of the iceberg of gambling-related harms, yet we don't have national data on how many are occurring. 


Too many people are taking their own lives due to gambling harm - we must do more to stop the predatory behaviour of the gambling industry and protect people, especially our children, from their addictive products.

gambling-related suicides
casino failure

Another horrendous casino failure

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The operator of Adelaide's casino has been ordered to pay a $67 million fine by the Federal Court over a money laundering case brought on by financial crimes agency AUSTRAC.


The civil action against Adelaide’s SkyCity Casino found the company had failed to meet its requirements under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, and allegations in court documents revealed the casino had customers with links to organised crime, loan sharking, human trafficking, and sex slavery!


This is just another chapter in an appalling litany of failures by casinos across the country and highlights the need for urgent Federal Government action.

Can we really trust clubs to help gamblers? 

Image by Emil Kalibradov

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.

Getting this policy right and ensuring it is implemented quickly and effectively has profound implications not only for the ACT but for the whole of Australia. 

The ACT Labor Party recently pledged, that if elected, it would reduce to 1000 the number of machines in ACT clubs by 2045, to fast-track the implementation of a cashless framework, strengthen self-exclusion and ban ATMs and EFTPOS withdrawals in clubs. 

The Alliance believes that there is a lot to like about what Labor is proposing for the ACT, but the plan does have some holes in it. Not least of which is the reduction of the number of machines is a long way off. But perhaps the biggest knock against the ALP blueprint is the absence of a centralised monitoring system.

You can read the full article written by Martin Thomas, Alliance for Gambling Reform Interim CEO on the AGR website here.

Gambling industry now targeting and grooming children

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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 revealed children as young as 14 were being targeted by social media ads urging them to download gambling apps on their phones.


Of course, we knew gambling companies targeted our kids through the endless stream of advertising that now saturates our sports coverage, now this latest research gives us just a glimpse of the hidden campaign to entrap our children.



You can read the full article written by Martin Thomas, Alliance for Gambling Reform Interim CEO on the AGR website here.

grooming children
clubs to help gamblers
Still no ban on gambling ads!

Still no ban on gambling ads!

Research from an Australia Institute poll in 2022 found that 71 per cent of Australians agreed with a ban on gambling ads - that’s six times as many as those who disagreed with a ban.  That makes a ban on gambling ads almost as popular as the existing ban on tobacco advertising.


About 85 per cent of 10-year-olds know the logos of these companies that want mobile phones to become the next pokies machines and are using marketing to rewire the brains of children into becoming the next generation of gamblers.


“The current level of gambling advertising is at epidemic levels. All major sporting codes have sold their souls to 'Big Gambling' in this country and have turned their backs on their fans and the greater Australian population who are against these ads," said Mark Kempster, one of the Alliance Voices who has experienced firsthand the harm caused by gambling.


The Alliance is still waiting on the Federal Government to respond to the Murphy Report into online gambling which called for phasing in an outright ban on gambling advertising.


Join our fight to #EndGamblingAds by signing the petition here.

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

Councils and supporters

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Romsey Hotel

This week, the Victorian Gambling and Casino and Control Commission (VGCCC) released their decision in relation to the application for 50 machines at The Romsey Hotel in Macedon Ranges Shire. 

After a lengthy process with the application submitted in September last year, it was finally heard over three and half days in May. Macedon Ranges Shire Council objected to the application, and pointed to community sentiment around bringing gambling into a town which is currently pokies free.

There were also concerns from the community with the local Romsey Football and Netball Club submitting the application to hold the license based on an agreement with publican and Romsey Hotel owner Jim Hogan, who had tried unsuccessfully to establish pokies at the venue in the past.

We are extremely pleased to announce that this application was refused

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation 

As of 30 June, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) will be officially dissolved, with staff and functions being distributed across VGCCC, Department of Justice, and the Department of Health. 

While this is a major change in how some of their work is delivered, we have been assured that the activities will remain the same, with programs such as Love the Game and Gambling Harm Awareness Week that councils regularly engage with still being supported. 

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Repeal and Advisory Councils Act 2024 was passed on 20 June, and an amendment added in the need for a 12-month review of the changes to ensure that the new model was working as intended. 


Bingo is not what it used to be! 

Like many gambling products, bingo has changed with technology now allowing players to use digital terminals to play hundreds of games at a time. More games mean bigger jackpots, and bigger jackpots mean more people wanting to play, and so there is the potential for more harm.

The Victorian Government has just opened an inquiry into Bingo in Victoria. The consultation is open until 1 August 2024. 

The Alliance will be making a submission and encouraging councils to take this opportunity to understand how bingo changes to bingo have increased the risk of harm to the community. 

Woman Typing

Share your

The fastest growing group to experience gambling harm in Australia is young people aged between 18-30. We also know that the predatory gambling industry targets young people and even our kids in grooming them to become the gamblers through the gamification of gambling. 


The Alliance is very keen to hear from young people who have experienced gambling harm. We also want to hear from parents whose children have been affected by gambling.


We want to enable people to tell their stories, to highlight what the gambling industry is doing to a generation of young people. We want to see changes in our laws to better protect children and young people.


Yet the Alliance is also concerned to do this in a way that empowers and protects people. To protect people’s identities but to allow them to be heard.


Please join us in protecting our young people and children from gambling harm. If we don’t speak up, we will never see change.


We would love to hear from you about your story.


Please email us at if you would like to share your story with us.


Media Releases

In The News

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.

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.

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


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

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.

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.

1 In 3 Bets Placed by Aussies Last Year Were Made By Problem Gamblers, Grim New Data Shows

Pedestrian TV

25 June 2024

The findings were released by Alliance for Gambling Reform and come on the one-year anniversary of a parliamentary report which called for stronger regulations around online gambling advertising, among other recommendations. Martin Thomas, the Interim CEO of Alliance for Gambling Reform, described the numbers in the research as “huge”, saying they highlight a “predatory online gambling industry” that is “ensnaring a whole new generation into gambling.” Thomas pointed to the “inescapable torrent” gambling ads as having a “normalising” effect on betting, and said advertising is “grooming children and young people to gamble”.

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