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Welcome to our
May
NEWSLETTER

Check out all our latest updates

05/2024

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Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

Message from the CEO

As I am getting ready to depart as CEO of the Alliance, I am pleased to say that there are some very positive signs for the future.  In my time in the role, I have seen a huge shift in the public conversation and political reaction to gambling reform at both national and state level (local government already understands the impact that gambling exacts in their communities).  

  

There are now also signs of acceptance from governments that they need to demonstrate action.  While we are not yet looking at major reform, it is good to see gambling harms being held up as an important political agenda in most states as well as at the federal level. Even laggard states like NSW and the NT have had to grapple with the issue and take some important steps towards reform.  Every step makes a big difference to the level of gambling harm.   

  

While the federal government likes to champion its bona fides in introducing Betstop, ad tag lines and banning credit for gambling, they are yet to respond to the Murphy report into online gambling almost a year from it being submitted.  This is very disappointing and represents an important area of advocacy for the Alliance in the coming months.    

  

I have met some of the most incredible, courageous and committed people in my time as CEO of the Alliance, especially those who have experienced the harm that goes hand in hand with gambling losses. It is for those people that I sincerely hope the changes that Australia must make to its lax regulation of gambling finally come to fruition.  

  

The Alliance is in good hands with the appointment of Martin Thomas (our Communications Manager) to the role of interim CEO while a recruitment process is underway.  I have no doubt that Martin, in collaboration with Chief Advocate Tim Costello, our board and team will continue to take the fight for gambling reform to the decision makers.   

  

While we have made some significant inroads, there remains much to be done.  I look forward to watching the Alliance enter its next chapter to make a huge difference to reducing gambling in Australia.   

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

With the financial year ending soon, now is a great time to make a tax-deductible donation to the Alliance.   

 

Even the smallest donation makes a powerful impact! 

 

Tax time donations from our supporters give us the ability to budget and plan for the year ahead.     

 

Thank you for your support.

If you wish to make a donation via bank transfer

Alliance For Gambling Reform Inc

Please contact info@agr.org.au for bank details.

The Albanese Government released the Federal Budget on 14 May 2024, and we were extremely disappointed that they missed yet another opportunity to meaningfully combat the devasting impact of gambling on Australians.  

 

We were particularly saddened and surprised that the Federal Government has not allocated any funding to respond to the 31 unanimous bipartisan committee recommendations from the Inquiry into Online Gambling Harm – it has now been nearly a year since the Murphy Report was released and there is still no response from Government.  This is despite the ALP commitment to responding to parliamentary inquiries within 6 months. 

However, it isn’t all bad news – $6.5 million will be invested in a trial of advanced age verification technologies which could be used to prevent children from accessing both illicit material and online gambling. We believe it is vital to implement age verification for online gambling as we know that young people are gambling because there is currently no way of knowing if the person who is setting up an account is the same person on the driver's license being used to establish the account.    

Federal Budget 

The government will also spend $1 million over two years on an education campaign about upcoming changes to video game ratings due to begin in September.  Under the changes, games with built-in purchases linked to chance, such as loot boxes, will automatically receive an ‘M’ rating, while titles with simulated gambling elements will attract an ‘R18+’ rating. 

 

We are also disappointed that there was no funding in response to our submission in February this year calling for the Federal Government to urgently act to close a loophole that excludes predatory online gambling advertising targeting children from being included in the nation’s Online Safety Code.  

Under current definitions, the nation’s Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE), gambling advertising is not included among online harms such as hate speech, cyber-bullying, and child sexual exploitation.  

The Alliance believes that the rapid growth of online gambling advertising – particularly targeting children and young people – means the government must act urgently to update its actions to protect young people online.    

Given the aim of the BOSE Determination was to protect Australians from abusive and harmful content online, the Alliance believes that there must be a much broader definition to include the devastating harms of online gambling advertising. 
 

>>>Read more 

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Another lifeline
for
Star Casino 

The Alliance is disappointed that Star Casino in Queensland has been granted another lifeline by the state government.   

In 2022, Star was found unsuitable to hold a casino licence in Queensland after an independent review, known as the first Bell inquiry, found there had been “major failings” from the company. 

The inquiry, which was chaired by Adam Bell SC, found the gaming giant hadn’t met its obligations to prevent money laundering and organised crime links.  

Star was initially sanctioned and given 12 months to resolve issues flagged by investigators and prove it was suitable to hold a license.  However, the December 2023 deadline was pushed back to 31 May this year and has now been pushed back again until 20 December 2024.     

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NSW & ACT clubs data breach

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Cybercrime detectives have charged a Sydney man with blackmail after online threats were made to expose one million identity records of Australian club and pub patrons. 

 

The website, uncovered earlier this month, had published the details of people who used their drivers' licences and other personal details to sign in at 17 venues across the NSW and the ACT. 

 

It has prompted calls for better data handling and changes to mandates that require all registered clubs in NSW to capture identity data of patrons.  Registered clubs are required by law to document and store the personal details of patrons entering their venues in NSW.   

 

Police allege the third-party IT provider contracted to collect the data had sent it offshore to another contractor. 

 

The Alliance believes that 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 the current system is with the mountain of private information routinely collected from the public without direct consent and routinely shared with offshore providers. 

>>>View more 

Gender-based violence, gambling and the hypocrisy of the AFL 

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Amid the national spotlight that has finally shone on Australia’s domestic violence crisis, the AFL decided that in all their games over one weekend earlier this month, that they would highlight the issue with a minute’s silence before play. 

  

While it was poignant to see young men standing in solidarity with women against violence, for the AFL itself the move was hypocritical. 

  

The AFL reaps multiple millions of dollars from gambling sponsorship and advertising – the losses from gambling are a substantial factor fuelling domestic violence – so without greater action against gambling the league is simply ‘virtue signalling’. 

  

Research shows us that domestic violence is three times more likely to occur in families in which there is problem gambling than in families in which there are no gambling problems. 

Yet the AFL, NRL and free to air television executives have all lobbied hard against any government action to curb gambling advertising. It seems the AFL and their ilk are all for tackling gender-based violence until it hits their bottom line. 

The AFL’s hypocrisy is just a snapshot of the challenges confronting our country when it comes to truly tackling gender-based violence. Words and tokenism will not help us deal meaningfully with this scourge. Our best efforts will only work if there is a comprehensive approach. 

 

And one element that must be a non-negotiable is we must have gambling reform in this country. 

 

Article by Tim Costello, Chief Advocate – Alliance for Gambling Reform. You can read the full article here 

Cruise ships must have duty of care to their customers

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The shocking death of a father-of-three, Shane Dixon who fell from a cruise liner after racking up debts in the ship's casino has sparked calls for government intervention into gambling practices in international waters.  

 

Shane’s family believes he panicked after the consequences of an outstanding debt from the ship's casino began to sink in. 

 

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO, Carol Bennett said the reports on Shane's case raised important issues that must be addressed – ships must have a duty of care to their customers. 

It's really concerning that when a ship sails 12 nautical miles off the coast of Australia, it can then allow anything and everything to happen.  The rules that might apply on land no longer seem to apply and yet 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. 

It is just beyond belief that there is not an expectation that when a cruise ship leaves a dock that the rules of that jurisdiction apply.  But clearly that's not the case and we leave it all in the hands of the cruise line operator who may or may not apply the responsible service of gambling. 

 

The Alliance believes that if Shane had been offered inducements, the operator needs to bear the responsibility of the 'appalling breach of duty of care'. 

 

Our thoughts are with Shane’s family during this difficult time.  

 

>>>Read more 

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Campaign to push Nine, Seven, and News Corp to #EndGamblingAds

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is collaborating with Sustainable Investment Exchange (SIX), a share trading company that supports shareholder activism.  

 

SIX are running a shareholder campaign to push Nine, Seven, and News Corp to ban gambling ads – something that the Alliance strongly supports!  

 

Nine, Seven, and News Corp are three of Australia’s biggest media companies.  Nine and Seven own the two most watched TV networks in the nation, with News Corp owning many of the most read papers. These companies all allow gambling ads. News Corp even owns a gambling hub! 

  

TAKE ACTION NOW! 

 

If you don’t own shares in Nine, Seven, or News Corp - you can use the sign-up form on the campaign page to pledge your interest to buy shares in these companies, and SIX will let you know when they've launched their share trading platform, so you can buy these shares.  

 

If you already own shares in Nine, Seven, or News Corp – you can use the sign-up form to let SIX know if you already own shares in these companies.  SIX will keep you informed about how you can use your shareholder power. 

 

Please join us in our efforts to

#EndGamblingAds.  

Alliance submission to NT Draft Code of Practice 

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The Alliance for Gambling Reform has provided a submission to the Northern Territory on the Draft Code of Practice for Safer Online Wagering and reiterated the Alliance’s firm position that responsibility for online gambling should sit with a single Australian Government Minister. 

 

Our submission also pointed out that that a national online gambling regulator should be established with responsibility for all licensing and regulation of online gambling in Australia including a comprehensive ban on all forms of advertising of online gambling to all members of the public.  

 

We noted that the proposed Code has several areas that require significant improvement to support safer online wagering, including an explicit requirement that prevents customers from using credit cards and ‘buy now, pay later’ services as a deposit payment method.  The Code should also include more specific requirements around how children are identified/excluded from online gambling platforms. 

 

The Alliance believes that it is critical that the requirements of the NT Code of Practice for Safer Online Wagering are in fact requirements, not merely suggestions. It is therefore essential that the Code is mandatory rather than voluntary, and is strongly enforced by an effective regulator, with significant penalties in place for non-compliance.  

 

You can read our full submission here. 

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Policy and Submissions 

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In Victoria, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation Repeal and Advisory Councils Bill was presented to the lower house in early May.  

 

In 2023 the Government made the decision to remove the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation – an organisation at the forefront of trying to reduce gambling harm in Victoria since its inception 12 years ago. 

While the Foundation itself is being dissolved, its functions, staff, and funding will be distributed among the Victorian Regulator, the Department of Health and the Department of Justice.  

The Alliance has provided feedback on the proposed changes at a number of points -  meeting with the Department and the Minister’s Advisor.  While we do have some reservations about the changes, the recent Victorian Budget and the Repeal Bill have relieved those concerns as we can see there is no reduction in funding to reducing gambling harm, whether that is through Gambler’s help services, education, information or research.  

  

We have underscored the importance of maintaining access to prior research, reports, submissions and data generated by the VRGF and currently available on their website. This also must provide a platform for new research and data. Equally, maintaining the current approach to research, including the ongoing sector leading studies, and the progressive research agenda with highly credentialed academics that do not have industry conflicts is critical. 

 

>>>Read more 

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Share your
Voice

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 info@agr.org.au if you would like to share your story with us. 

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Councils 
and
Supporters 

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Victorian council elections are less than 5 months away!  Now is a great time for the community to ensure gambling is on the agenda next term.  

 

Victorian Councils are gearing up for local government elections in October, leading to officers working in social policy and health promotion turning their minds to planning for Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plans (the Plan) that underpin councils’ response to public health in the community. The Councillors will then be asked to endorse the Plan for the next four years. 

 

As we know, harm from gambling is a significant public health issue but not always recognised or treated in the same way as other public health issues such as smoking, alcohol or unhealthy foods.  

 

The next 6 months is a great time for members of the community to highlight to their local council the importance of including gambling harm as one of the issues covered by the Plan.  Keep an eye out on their website or in your council newsletter for any mention of feedback being sought for planning relating to health and wellbeing or thinking about community needs heading into the next council term.  

 

These early feedback stages are particularly important and community members can have a huge impact on what council is doing and whether they treat gambling harm as a public health issue requiring council action. So have your say! 

And for council officers reading this, don’t forget to include gambling harm in your consultation and planning, and please reach out to us at the Alliance for any advice on how to ensure this becomes part of your endorsed Plan.  

Council workshops 

We were really pleased to catch up with the many council officers who joined us for two workshops earlier this month on the Victorian State Government Monitoring License Discussion Paper. 

All gaming machines in Victorian club and hotel gaming venues must be connected to an electronic monitoring system. These monitoring systems aim to protect the integrity of gaming machine transactions. They collect data and information for regulatory, research and other purposes. 

The feedback gathered through the workshops will help both councils and the Alliance formulate submissions into the consultation process. We hope that the consultation will result in better availability of data relating to machines and venues that councils can utilise to understand patterns such as peak periods. We want to see researchers access data to create all of those papers we use to demonstrate the evidence behind what we know is happening – significant levels of harm from poker machines.  

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Follow us on Instagram 

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The Alliance is now on Instagram!  

Follow us for the latest updates, news, and events.  Help us spread the word by sharing our page.

https://www.instagram.com/reformgambling/  

We're also committed to providing educational content to Australia's younger generations - encourage your kids to follow us and understand how to stop gambling harm! 

Media Releases

Opinion Pieces 

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Pokies venues bet on community goodwill over gambling revenue 

ICDA 

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. 

Read more 

In The News

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Canberra club members believed to be spared worst of data breach

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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.

Keep up to date with the latest news in Gambling Reform, and be part of the Conversation on Facebook|Twitter| LinkedIn

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