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NEWSLETTER

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5/2023

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Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

Message from the CEO

Our joint symposium Tackling Gambling Harm in Australia, co-hosted with the Public Health Association of Australia, was held on Monday 1 May in Adelaide.  It was a pre-preventive health conference event and provided an excellent opportunity to partner with the health sector to bring together more than 100 people to hear from Australia’s leading experts in gambling harm. The symposium provided a focus on finding solutions to address the harm that can and does arise from gambling. The need for gambling harm to be a recognised public health issue underpinned by a national strategy and real investment in prevention, treatment, support and research was a key outcome.

Important and overdue reform including a ban on gambling advertising was given high priority by participants at the symposium. Its high on the Alliance’s list of priorities too.  A huge thank you to those who are making a regular donation of $10 a month to support our End Gambling Ads Campaign!  As the Alliance does not receive state or federal government funding, this support is invaluable in enabling us to do our policy and advocacy work. 

Tackling gambling harm in Australia symposium Monday 1 May 2023.

Left to right: Dini Soulio, Liquor & Gambling Commissioner South Australia, Carol Bennett and Peta Murphy MP, Chair of Inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm. 

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ACT MLA Marisa Paterson MLA launched ‘Keep Molonglo Pokie-Free’' in the Canberra community on Tuesday 2 May 2023 - an Australian first! The Alliance for Gambling Reform welcomes Marisa's leadership in making our new local suburbs pokies free.

Other issues highlighted included the urgent need for the national self-exclusion scheme, Betstop! to be implemented as well as the speedy introduction of the ban on credit for online gambling.  We were delighted to see Minister Rishworth’s announcement that legislation for this to occur will be introduced in the spring sitting of parliament. It’s a great step forward in gambling harm reduction.

And on the poker machine front, how ironic that the losses continue to grow in NSW even as the need for a cashless gambling card were playing out as a high priority election issue.  In the last 6 months, the state saw losses of $4.2b rolling off the back of $8b in losses in 2022.  And Victoria posted losses for the one month of March of more than $247 million!  Where do people think this money is coming from? 

Also featured in this newsletter is a short update on casino reform – and another eye watering fine of $30m for Crown…

We partnered with the peak body for the alcohol and other drug sector in a webinar attended by 200 people on the importance of implementing formal standards for AOD and gambling treatment services. What stands out is that while the AOD sector are struggling to maintain standards outlined in their national quality framework, the gambling services sector is yet to have a framework (of any kind!). 

And the ACT is leading on a new proposal by MLA Marisa Paterson for a poker machine free community in a new and developing region of Canberra- Molonglo Valley.  Marisa is calling on Canberrans to pledge their support for a safer community and we strongly support her!

Latest news on our work with councils and our voices also in this newsletter. 

Thank you again for your support of our work and I hope you enjoy reading this edition!

 

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

Tackling Gambling Harm
in Australia symposium

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Experts including EM Professor Mike Daube, Dini Soulio, Carol Bennett and Kate Seselja make recommendations in the closing session at the Tackling gambling harm in Australia symposium

On Monday 1 May, The Alliance partnered with the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) for the symposium “Social justice meets public health: tackling gambling harm in Australia”.


This was a pre-conference event of the  PHAA Preventative Health Conference and held at the Adelaide Convention Centre as well as virtually.

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Rose O'Leary, Carol Bennett from the Alliance met with Connie Bonaros MLC

The event was well-attended by Federal politicians, researchers, lived experience advocates, local government representatives, community health organisations and more which truly highlighted how much interest in the issue is growing and how it is beginning to be recognised as a crucial public health issue.

 

The key takeaways from the conference were:

  • Lived experience needs to be front and centre when it comes to legislative changes to ensure any changes will have the greatest impact on reducing harm

  • Acceptance that, like other harmful products, gambling should be properly regulated

  • The need for a national health response to gambling harm (including prevention, treatment and research) crucial with a call for the Federal Government to create a unit within the Department of Health and Aged Care to address gambling harm and to establish a new, properly resourced national regulator and ombudsman

  • The need for gambling industry donations and lobby interests to be curbed to protect the integrity of governments to act in the public interest

  • Now is the time to implement a mandatory pre-commitment scheme for both online gambling services and poker machines with binding and practical default limits which can only be increased with proof of income.

 

The symposium generated significant media interest as the first national forum on gambling harm. Following the symposium, Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett and Policy and Advocacy Lead Rose O’Leary met with Connie Bonaros MLC to discuss local gambling harm issues in South Australia.

 

See our communique here

See our media release here

Federal Government to ban online gambling with credit

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The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP Minister for Social Services, Member for Kingston

The Hon Michelle Rowland MP Minister for Communications, Member for Greenway

It is most encouraging to see leadership at a Federal level regarding practical measures to reduce and prevent gambling harm including the recent announcement of a ban on credit for online gambling

Read The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP Minister for Social Services, Member for Kingston and The Hon Michelle Rowland MP Minister for Communications, Member for Greenway media release here.

 

The Alliance media release is here.


You can also read our policy on prohibiting the use of credit for gambling via our website

Poker Machine
Losses

The poker machine losses for New South Wales for the period of June 2022 to December 2022 were published on Anzac Day eve. Not only was this a very unfortunate time to publish such crucial data, but it was also some of the most staggering poker machine losses we have ever seen in Australia’s history.

 

Over $4.2 billion was lost to gambling over a six month period, which has led to over $8 billion of losses in 2022 alone. It highlights the critical need for reforms to support those at risk of, or impacted by, gambling harm. We simply cannot continue with such high losses which have continued to climb not only in NSW but the entire country both on poker machines and via online gambling.

 

The Alliance urges NSW supporters to get in touch with their state MP and stress the importance of gambling reforms such as cashless gambling with mandatory pre-commitment which will have a lasting and significant impact on reducing harm and therefore reducing these losses! Click here to find your local MPs details.

 

Last Friday the poker machine losses for Victoria were also published for March.  Over $247 million was in one month alone! To read more about your local losses click here.

Keep Molonglo Pokies Free

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Carol Bennett speaks at the Keep Molongo Pokie-free Launch in the ACT.

On 2 May, ACT MLA Marisa Paterson launched a proposal for a new poker machine free community in a new region being developed in Canberra- Molonglo Valley. 
 

A campaign will run for a month asking residents to pledge their support for a poker machine free community and have conversations around what they would want from a local, pokies-free, community club!

 

It’s a brilliant initiative that we hope will set a precedent for developing safer communities around Australia. You can read our media release here, Marisa’s media release here.

Quality
and accreditation

in the AOD and gambling sectors

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On Wednesday 26 April, the Alliance and the Australian Alcohol and Other Drugs Council, the peak body for the alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector, co-hosted a workshop focusing on the need for Quality and Accreditation in the AOD and gambling sectors.

Around 200 people from the AOD and gambling services sectors attended the online event to hear about the importance of implementing formal standards for services. The event comes in the wake of several high-profile cases across the country where clients were harmed by under-regulated services.

Speakers at the online event included: Rebecca Lang, CEO, Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (QNADA); Jill Rundle, CEO, Western Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA); Rob Stirling, CEO, Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA); and Carol Bennett, CEO, The Alliance.

 

While the AOD sector has a poorly implemented national quality framework, there is no national framework of any kind in the gambling sector.

In summary, not only do we need a national strategic approach to gambling harm treatment, but it needs to be integrated into the broader public health system, especially given the potential for comorbidities. It also should be properly evaluated, including providing a lived experience perspective on how accessible and effective the current treatment options are for different groups of gamblers, their families, workplaces and communities.

Our 3 recommendations are:

  1. National Strategy to reduce gambling harm including access to appropriate treatment services, ongoing regular evaluation and improvement of the services available to people seeking help for gambling issues.

  2. Provide all medical and health professionals (including helpline operators) with training in gambling harm reduction and an up to date set of guidelines and referral options.

  3. Provide those seeking help to readily access independent and quality information about gambling harm and services via a national services directory..


Read more here.

Update on casino reform

Casinos continue to be in the spotlight following the many investigations into their businesses. We are yet to know the outcome of the Adelaide SkyCity inquiry due to a coinciding inquiry by AUSTRAC needing to be finalised before the inquiry findings are published and recommendations implemented.

The Alliance continues to meet with and receive updates from the Office of the Special Manager who are overseeing Crown Melbourne. We look forward to seeing their final recommendations to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission at the end of this year.

 

Crown Casino were fined $30 million last week for its illegal bank cheque processes which allowed people to bank cheques made out to themselves and not the casino. This increased risk of money laundering and extends credit to those who gamble which is illegal on land-based gambling (like poker machines) in Australia due to heighted risk of harm. The Alliance is glad to see the VGCCC take appropriate action! Read more here.

And finally, Star has been in the news recently due to a financial crisis hitting their casinos following the disciplinary action taken against them following various inquiries. You can read more here.

Councils and Supporter Organisations Update

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The Victorian Local Government Association’s working group on gambling met in April and had a presentation from researchers from Curtin University and Deakin University on a Public Health Approach to Gambling. Council officers and Councillors had many questions on how this research could apply to their approach to preventing harm from gambling at a local government level.

 

The Alliance has been working with a number of councils who are updating their gambling harm prevention policies and some who are creating a policy for the first time. If your council is considering adopting a gambling policy this year, please get in touch with our Councils and Supporters Coordinator, Bec Paterson, as she would love to provide you with advice on current best practices for council policies.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the SEIFA data from the 2021 Census at the end of April, which will give councils the opportunity to consider how the demographics of their local area have changed since 2016. The Alliance suggests it would be good for councils to compare the two data sets and understand how this could impact future applications for venues or additional machines, as well as regional caps and municipal limits set by the Minister.

Please get in touch with Bec if you'd like to discuss this further.

Voices
Update

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Paul Fung, Anna Bardsley, Scott Wilson, and Kate Seselja presented on the lived experience of gambling harm at the Tackling Gambling Harm in Australia symposium.

The incredible momentum of the last month has seen new people with lived experience of gambling harm emerge to join the chorus of Voices demanding gambling reform. Every single news outlet has written and produced countless important pieces that bring along the community education around gambling harm and our voices give vital insights in those stories.

 

We have also engaged with members of parliament to help bring about important legislative change.
 

We were devastated to hear that the Federal Government has failed to deliver Betstop! – the national self-exclusion register to consumers that are profoundly unprotected from this predatory industry.

 

We will continue our efforts moving forward as we now have a very solid platform to maintain the focus and intensity needed to create meaningful change.

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Kate Seselja, speaks at the Keep Molongo Pokie-free Launch in the ACT on 2 Tuesday 2023

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.

In The News

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

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.

Is ACT the Strictest State on Sports Betting?

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.

Why Brownlow betting ban was rejected

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.”

Crown Resorts to investigate its CEO

Crown Resorts to investigate its CEO

ABC Listen

15 January 2024

There's a lot going on at Crown Resorts.

The organisation is investigating its own CEO.

Plus, in a few months Crown will find out if it has escaped probation and will get to keep its licence in Melbourne for Crown Casino.

It's also launching new swipe card technology to set binding limits on losses and time spent gambling on gaming machines.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Reverend Tim Costello joined Raf Eptein to discuss all of the above.

Melbourne’s Crown Casino launches new technology to prevent problem gambling

Melbourne’s Crown Casino launches new technology to prevent problem gambling

Herald Sun

14 December 2023

Mandatory cashless cards lack teeth without genuine binding limits. “The limit can be a million dollars; it is a complete farce” said Alliance Chief Advocate Tim Costello.

Murphy’s law: will Peta’s colleagues gamble on her brave legacy?

Murphy’s law: will Peta’s colleagues gamble on her brave legacy?

The Sydney Morning Herald

7 December 2023

“Feedback from government is that we probably don’t have too much to worry about there,” one executive said about the advertising ban, according to the leaker’s notes. This has alarmed Tim Costello, a friend of Peta Murphy and the chief advocate at the Alliance for Gambling Reform. It has also worried Zoe Daniel, the independent member for Goldstein, who has a private member’s bill to ban gambling advertising.

‘Clarion call’ for action as poll reveals urgency of gambling reform

‘Clarion call’ for action as poll reveals urgency of gambling reform

The NEWDAILY

3 December 2023

The federal government is under increased pressure to act on gambling reform, after what has been dubbed a “clarion call” for change.

A poll conducted in June by advocacy group Alliance for Gambling Reform found more than 70 per cent of Australians believe there is too much gambling advertising in sport and want it to be banned.

The poll took in 1004 people aged over 18 years, with 77.6 per cent believing there was too much gambling advertising in sport, while 71.3 per cent thought gambling advertising should be banned from sport completely.

Ban on gambling ads a certain winner, say independent MPs

Ban on gambling ads a certain winner, say independent MPs

The NEW DAILY

28 November 2023

Chief advocate of Alliance for Gambling Reform Tim Costello said Australians were sick of the gambling sector “grooming” their children with advertisements.

“Eighty per cent of 10-year-olds know the logo, the jingles, the odds – imagine if 80 per cent of 10-year-olds knew the difference between Peter Jacksons and Marlboros,” he said.

The government should take a whole-hearted approach to gambling regulation, like it did with tobacco, rather than take half-measures, he said.

Gambling reform in Tasmania is too important not have bipartisan support

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.

ACT prohibits poker machines in Molonglo

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.

Gamblers losing $23 million a day on the pokies

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

Sydney Breakfast

Sydney Breakfast

ABC Sydney Breakfast

15 December 2023

The NSW Government's Independent Panel on Gambling Reform has announced an expanded cashless gambling trial across 28 clubs and hotels in metropolitan and regional areas. Alliance CEO Carol Bennett spoke to Simon Marnie on ABC highlighting the farce of a trial in light of the Crime Commission report calling for a mandatory pre-commitment carded system NOW.

Communities are trying to chase pokies out of Australian towns. Their victories are inspiring others

Communities are trying to chase pokies out of Australian towns. Their victories are inspiring others

The Guardian

9 December 2023

Karslake has the support of longtime campaigner Carol Bennett from the Alliance for Gambling Reform, who says removing poker machines is “one of the best ways to ensure communities flourish and focus on what they really want and need”.

“We are seeing a groundswell of local communities taking back control from gambling interests and replacing it with live music, good food and recreation,” Bennett says.

“That can only be a good thing for all of us.”

Online betting in Australia turns over $50bn a year. It’s largely regulated by six people in Darwin

Online betting in Australia turns over $50bn a year. It’s largely regulated by six people in Darwin

The Guardian

7 December 2023

The chief executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said the arrangement “calls into question the integrity of this system and supports calls for a national regulator with teeth”.

“Most people would be surprised to learn that a small group of Darwin locals are responsible for Australia’s online gambling industry,” she said.

“If the NT system is not overhauled and legislation rewritten as a matter of urgency, the federal government should step up to lead this change through national regulation in the public interest.”

Former gambling addict calls for advertising bans as federal government considers reforms

Former gambling addict calls for advertising bans as federal government considers reforms

ABC News

29 November 2023

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

Ban on gambling ads a certain winner, say MPs

Ban on gambling ads a certain winner, say MPs

The Canberra Times

28 November 2023

Chief advocate of Alliance for Gambling Reform Tim Costello said Australians were sick of the gambling sector "grooming" their children with advertisements.

"Eighty per cent of 10 year olds know the logo, the jingles, the odds - imagine if 80 per cent of 10 year olds knew the difference between Peter Jacksons and Marlboros," he said.

SUPPORT
to End Gambling Ads

Can you help support the work of the Alliance for just the cost of 2 coffees a month?

Gambling is a rapidly growing public health issue in Australia, and the constant bombardment of gambling ads during live sports broadcasts, as well as on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and online gaming platforms, is a cause for concern. These ads are often targeted towards young people and are placed at times and in places where children and teenagers are most likely to see them.

 

A 13-year-old today doesn't know a world without gambling ads. Online gambling companies were some of the top-spending advertisers in Australia in 2021 with advertising on gambling around $281 million (AdNews, 2022)

 

I am inviting you to make a regular donation of $10 a month to support our End Gambling Ads Campaign.

To make your donation click on donation buttons to choose to donate through Square or Paypal, where you can securely set up a monthly donation of just $10. Of course, any amount you can contribute will help us to make a real difference.

Thank you for your continued support!

Please note that we are legally obliged to record contact details such as your address and name. We also ask for your email and phone number so we can supply you with a receipt of your donation and to thank you for your support. We will never share your information with anyone outside the Alliance unless obligated to do so under the law.

Alliance for Gambling Reform Inc is a registered public health charity, with endorsed DGR Status. All donations are tax deductible.

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