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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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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.”

Alleged data leak blackmailer could face years in jail

Alleged data leak blackmailer could face years in jail

Eden Magnet

3 May 2024

Alliance for Gambling Reform said the breach could have been avoided by a centralised, secure universal cashless gambling card system. "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," chief executive Carol Bennett said in a statement.

Man arrested after club visitor data exposed in breach

Man arrested after club visitor data exposed in breach

The Senior

25 May 2024

Alliance for Gambling Reform said the breach could have been avoided by a centralised, secure universal cashless gambling card system. "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," chief executive Carol Bennett said in a statement.

Pokies venues bet on community goodwill over gambling revenue

Pokies venues bet on community goodwill over gambling revenue

Institute of Community Directors Australia

16 April 2024

Faced with inaction from government, some pokies venues are taking matters into their own hands to stem community losses from gambling, writes Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett.

There is a growing backlash against gambling in Australia.

Across Australia’s eastern states, clubs and pubs are increasingly shunning poker machines.

In some cases, it’s a response to falling revenue, but mostly it is a response by clubs and pubs to the growing anger across the nation about the intolerable and devastating gambling losses we all pay a price for.

NSW Netball Teams Back Gambling Ad Ban

NSW Netball Teams Back Gambling Ad Ban

B&T

5 April 2024

The mistake raised calls for gambling advertising reform with the ground-based ads engraining gambling practice within the sport itself. According to the Alliance For Gambling Reform, three in every four kids believe that gambling is a normal part of sports, and anyone 12 or younger has never watched a sporting game without bearing witness to gambling advertising of some capacity.

'Dud' policy or 'absolutely essential'? Battlelines drawn over the best ways to reduce gambling harm

'Dud' policy or 'absolutely essential'? Battlelines drawn over the best ways to reduce gambling harm

Riotact

2 April 2024

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett asked why the two had to be mutually exclusive.

“Why wouldn’t we aim for both?” she asked.

ACTCOSS CEO Devin Bowles added: “Having a system that encompasses the whole jurisdiction is absolutely essential if we want to minimise gambling harms.”

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.

Man charged with blackmail over clubs data leak

Man charged with blackmail over clubs data leak

The New Daily

3 May 2024

Alliance for Gambling Reform said the breach could have been avoided by a centralised, secure universal cashless gambling card system. “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,” chief executive Carol Bennett said.

First NSW cashless gaming trial results criticised as further trials continue

First NSW cashless gaming trial results criticised as further trials continue

Drinks Trade

24 April 2024

The report into the cashless gaming trial conducted at Wests Newcastle has received criticism from various industry stakeholders after it showed the technology to have little impact on the behaviour of gamblers.

The main areas of concern have stemmed from the trial’s lack of harm-reducing features and lack of features that encourage continued participation.

“It was mostly about testing the technology and a little bit of a hint towards harm minimisation,” said Carol Bennet, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

“I would have liked to see more on the harm minimisation front.”

This community club took extreme measures to kill off its pokies

This community club took extreme measures to kill off its pokies

The Age

6 April 2024

“The Hastings Club is reacting to state regulations that limit its capacity to meet increased liabilities at a time when returns from gambling are diminishing,” said the Alliance for Gambling Reform chief executive Carol Bennett.

“The government should be providing clubs every opportunity to surrender poker machine entitlements for the benefit of the community, but this is unlikely given the parlous budgetary situation in Victoria,” she said.

“A government focussed on reducing gambling harm would strive to reduce overall pokies entitlements altogether. Revenue from gambling should not be propping up the Victorian budget.”

“An Error Was Made In Round One”: Tabcorp Admits To Breaching Its Own Advertising Rules

“An Error Was Made In Round One”: Tabcorp Admits To Breaching Its Own Advertising Rules

Bandt

3 April 2024

The mistake has raised calls for gambling advertising reform with the ground-based ads engraining gambling practice within the sport itself. According to the Alliance For Gambling Reform, three in every four kids believe that gambling is a normal part of sports, and anyone 12 or younger has never watched a sporting game without bearing witness to gambling advertising of some capacity.

“I am now reluctant to allow my child to view the footy fixture online due to the ‘Bet Easy’ icon next to the game. I also feel annoyed and dismayed at the AFL that they have allowed a gambling company to infiltrate the game,” an anonymous source told the Alliance For Gambling Reform.

Have your say on whether $8m pokie-free Warringah Golf Club House should be able to serve alcohol

Have your say on whether $8m pokie-free Warringah Golf Club House should be able to serve alcohol

The Daily Telegraph

2 April 2024

Outspoken anti-poker machine campaigner and supporter of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Pat Daley, praised the club for going pokie-free.

Mr Daley, who pushed for gambling reforms while a councillor with Northern Beaches and Warringah councils, said it th golf club was seen as a “real example of what can be done” as NSW moves towards a reduction in macines and tougher poker machine policies.

“The proposed new club has wide support in the local community”.

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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