Inside Gambling Reform- April 2021 Newsletter
We couldn’t have had a better start to the year with not one but two Royal Commissions into Crown being announced. I must admit to experiencing some personal schadenfreude as we watch Crown finally have to answer for their awful business practices. It was especially heartening to hear that Commissioner Ray Finkelstein seeks to hear from the public about gambling harm occurring as a result of Crown’s actions, and hopefully more broadly.
The Alliance will naturally be making a submission, and we encourage others to do the same. Look out for our email about this next week.
Of course, Crown is not the only gambling reform story happening around Australia, and I encourage you to read on to learn more about what the Alliance has been working on.
Before that, I would like to take this opportunity though to say farewell and wish nothing but the best to Tony Mohr, who last month finished as the inaugural Executive Director of the Alliance. So much happened under Tony’s watchful eye over six years. Our Campaigns Director, Margaret Quixley, will act in this role until a replacement is recruited.
We've got a jam packed edition of the Inside Gambling Reform newsletter this month.
We hope you're all keeping safe and well.
Yours in hope for change, Rev Tim Costello, Chief Advocate
Alliance for Gambling Reform
A new Nature Human Behaviour paper based on seven years of anonymised bank data has revealed that gambling harm rates are far higher than previous prevalence studies have indicated.
The landmark study is based on data from 10% of the UK population that was released to researchers by the UK’s Lloyds Bank. The study gives a much clearer picture of how pervasive gambling harm is compared to conventional prevalence studies, in which people self-report their gambling activities.
The research has revealed that some people are spending up to one-third of their income gambling, a statistic much higher than those coming out of more common prevalence studies.
Central Queensland University researcher Philip Newall gave a special presentation to Alliance member Councils about the research and insights into how it can inform their work, especially their Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans.
The Alliance met with a small (COVID safe) group of supporters last month at NSW Parliament House, to continue our pressure campaign on all MPs to support genuine reform of the gambling industry in the state.
The campaign for a cashless gambling system and new self-exclusion legislation in NSW continues. Change in NSW, the most poker machine-intensive state in Australia, will be revolutionary for gambling reform around the country.
3. MEETING MINISTERS IN VICTORIA AND NSW
In the past month the Alliance has met with the gambling ministers for both Victoria and NSW. As always, people with lived experience of gambling harm joined Alliance staff in these meetings, ensuring their stories are heard by those who need to listen most.
We have major concerns in NSW that the industry organisation, ClubsNSW, seems determined to get in a cashless system that is voluntary and not linked to identity, which would speed up the emptying of people’s bank accounts and do nothing to prevent harm or money laundering.
The Alliance is actively participating in the design process of both digital solutions and the conduct of any trial, assuming some basic standards are met.
We are reviewing our campaign goals to see where we can best work with supporters and Voices to put into action the community’s desire to have a properly working exclusion system in NSW, move organised crime out of our clubs and pubs, and lift the standards in venues operating poker machines.
Voices for Gambling Reform is the new name for our program working with people with lived experience of gambling harm. The program was formerly known as Champions for Change, but this name did not resonate for many people. The new name reflects both the level of respect and dignity program participants deserve, and clarity of the message to describe their efforts.
Brimbank Council has expressed alarm at the extremely high rates of poker machine losses in their community.
“To hear that people in Brimbank are losing $391,518 a day on pokies is horrifying. Our city cannot sustain these losses,” Brimbank Mayor Lucinda Congreve said.
Meanwhile, Kingston Council has called on the Victorian Government to urgently reduce the number of electronic gaming machines allowed in the municipality, saying a reduction in the gaming machine cap is crucial to prevent further gambling harm across the city.
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation will provide $600,000 through its annual Grants for Gambling Research Program to support research into the theme of the funding round – ‘Gambling in Victoria in 2020 – COVID-19 and beyond’.
On International Women’s Day we paid tribute to Edith Cowan on the 100th anniversary of her being the first woman elected to Parliament, and acknowledged the other strong women who have contributed to Australian life. We made special mention of women like Shonica, Carolyn, Anna, and many, many others who use their voices publicly and privately, to lead the charge for gambling reform.
Finally, we’ve had great feedback on our Annual Report for the tumultuous year that 2020 was. You can read it here if you haven’t had the chance yet.