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11/2022

CarolBennett

Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

Message from the CEO

If you had arrived in Australia from another country in the last month and tuned into our media for the first time, you would think we are a country with an obsession about the impact of gambling. The media coverage is unprecedented. Of course this has not been the case in recent years.  Gambling harm has been a hidden issue.  Australians have been blind to our position as the world’s biggest gambling losers. 

The successive casino inquiries, Royal Commissions and the NSW Crime Commission report together with saturation online and broadcast sports gambling advertising have shone a spotlight on our gambling - hopefully for the good.  

With State elections coming up in Victoria and NSW, it is pleasing to see more focus on gambling as a key election issue - especially in NSW where the big policy discussion focuses on the NSW Crime Commission recommendation for a cashless gambling card.  This follows bipartisan support in Tasmania for exactly that, a first for Australia mandatory pre-commitment scheme and cashless gambling card.  The Alliance welcomes these developments and strongly supports this policy direction as one of the best ways to reduce gambling related harm.

It was pleasing to see the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs announce the Inquiry into Online gambling and its impact on those experiencing gambling harm.  I note that the original title was changed by the committee - who listened to the request of those with lived experience - to reflect a less stigmatising approach.  

The Alliance has provided a submission to the Online Gambling Inquiry together with 10 of our lived experience representatives (both in our submission and in separate submissions).  Our submission was the subject of a major news article and The Alliance looks forward to an opportunity to provide evidence on our submission to the committee.

It was fitting that all of this activity co-incided with Gambling Harm Awareness Week in October and we used that as an opportunity to host an event in Deer Park to coincide with the launch of our poker machine opening hours policy paper.  A big thank you to Carolyn Crawford who has spent many hours compiling information about opening hours across Victoria’s pubs and clubs.     

On the media front, interest just keeps growing exponentially and especially in NSW.  In the last two weeks the Alliance has had multiple opinion pieces published in key media outlets including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian and the Canberra Times. 

In Victoria, yet another record fine was handed to Crown Casino ($120m) for breaches of responsible service of gambling.  This is quite incredible, especially when you consider that the maximum fine was $1m just a few months ago!  

Sports gambling advertising is another media topic gaining momentum as an important national issue, and the Online Gambling Inquiry will only continue to attract attention and calls for action to end or restrict gambling ads.  

I hope you enjoy reading about the work we are doing to continue to drive the increasing community, media and political focus on the impact of gambling in Australia. 

Let me finish with a gentle reminder that the amazing work of the Alliance is only possible because of the generosity of people who share our commitment to making Australia a safer and fairer place.  The support you have given us has enabled the Alliance to take on one of the most powerful industry groups in Australia.  We are starting to make a real difference, the conversation is changing, and with your continued support we can and will reduce gambling harm in Australia. 

You can donate to support us here.

Carol Bennett

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO

Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2022 - highlighting the need for uniform opening hours

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Alliance for Gambling Reform advocate Carolyn Crawford and chief advocate Tim Costello (front) led a meeting of state election candidates and community members calling for changes to the gambling industry in Deer Park. (Image credit Damian Janevski) 

Gambling Harm Awareness Week was held 16-24 October in most states, and we used the opportunity to raise awareness about gambling harm as well as launching our Victorian Election policy platform.


Our Election policy platform launch took place at a well-attended event in Deer Park, Melbourne where we highlighted the need for uniform opening hours throughout Victoria.

Situated in one of the most stressed areas of Victoria, our team and supporters went on a stroll between venues, with clubs staggering opening hours within a 5-minute walk of each other. And this is just one example of how easy ‘venue hopping’ is, and why we need uniform hours of operation for poker machine venues.

Special thanks to Carolyn Crawford, a lived experience advocate, for courageously sharing her story of gambling harm. Thank you also Rev Tim Costello for sharing the message with local councillors and political candidates present, calling on them to change the laws for uniform hours of operation, with calls for a shutdown of poker machine rooms in the community between midnight and 10 AM.

Learn more about the event, our Victorian Election policy platform or read our Uniform Opening Hours policy paper


You can also read more about the urgent need for opening hours reform in Rev Tim Costello’s Opinion piece, published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

NSW Crime Commission Report and cashless gambling cards

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The New South Wales Crime Commission released their long-awaited Inquiry into Money Laundering via EGMs in Pubs and Clubs

This ground-breaking report showed evidence of money laundering and high levels of gambling harm throughout pubs and clubs in NSW; along with proposed solutions to rectify these issues.


It’s worth noting that this report came just days after it was announced that Tasmania has bi-partisan support for Mandatory pre-commitment and cashless gambling cards for all EGMs (poker machines) in pubs and clubs and the casino in Tasmania. 


We commend Tasmania’s decision - supporting the  first recommendation of the Crime Commission report and many more inquiries before it.

 
Tim’s latest Opinion piece published in the Canberra Times touches on the NSW Crime Commission Report, “The Federal Government must introduce a national gambling regulator”

Maximum Bets Paper

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What can be done to actively reduce gambling harm in the absence of political will for mandatory pre-commitment and cashless cards?  Reducing maximum bets.

Poker machines are the leading cause of gambling harm losses in Australia.  With current maximum bet limits ranging from $5/spin to unrestricted,  this policy could potentially reduce losses from $1,200 per hour to $120 per hour.

 

We launched our Maximum Bets Paper in the ACT where mandatory pre-commitment and cashless gambling cards seem far from a reality anytime soon. 

Read our Maximum Bets Paper and our press release to find out more.

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Victorian State Election Platform

With the Victorian State Election taking place on Saturday 26 November 2022, the Alliance is calling on politicians to take gambling harm reduction seriously with 3 key recommendations:

1. Uniform Closing Hours of Poker Machine Venues

The Alliance is calling for a 2am to 6am mandatory closing period for all poker machine venues, and a commitment for an incremental change which sees all gambling rooms closed between midnight to 10 AM.


2. Universal Precommitment

The Alliance is advocating for a mandatory, binding pre-commitment system for all poker machines in Victoria, not just in casinos.


3. Maximum $1 bets.
As per our policy paper, the Alliance recommends a maximum $1 bet limit per button push on poker machine venues.

 

The Alliance will also campaign in NSW in the upcoming March 2023 Election.  More to come on that.  You can read the full details of our Victorian State Election Platform here.

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Federal Inquiry into online gambling and its impact on those experiencing gambling harm

It’s no surprise that online gambling is the fastest growing form of gambling (and associated harms) in Australia.
That’s one of the reasons we welcome the Federal Inquiry into online gambling.

The Alliance has outlined 19 recommendations across 7 key areas.  You can read our submission here

 

Importantly, this inquiry also looks into the impact of people experiencing gambling harm.  We are pleased that so many of our Voices have participated by providing submissions (including in our submission).  


One of those who has shared his story is lived experience Advocate, Gavin Fineff lost everything to sports gambling.
His story is something every Australian should know about.
Gavin has generously shared his submission with us. You can read it here.

The Alliance is pleased to see that online gambling companies must ditch the “gamble responsibly” tagline when advertising their services by March next year, and instead use up to seven new evidence-backed taglines. Rate them here https://forms.office.com/r/BJzHzZuVDp

I accept my punishment. I can't accept the destruction continuing.  Every day, more people are being hurt. Families, community services, the courts and the public are all picking up the cost.

Help us to fight against online gambling harm in Australia.

Congratulations Rev Tim Costello

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Alliance for Gambling Reform's Chief Advocate Rev. Tim Costello is one of Australia’s most respected community leaders and a sought-after voice on social justice issues, leadership and ethics.


This month, he has been awarded ACFID’s Outstanding Contribution to the Sector Award!  Well deserved Tim!

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Rebecca Paterson
Supporters and Councils Coordinator

Rebecca Paterson joins our team

The Alliance is delighted to welcome Rebecca Paterson to the role of Supporters and Councils Coordinator.  Rebecca has been supporting the work of the Alliance in the last 9 years in her role as a councillor at the City of Monash and is keen to play an even greater role in much needed reform of the industry. 

 

Rebecca has hit the ground running, already making a submission to the VGCCC on new poker machine licenses in one of our leadership council areas as well as reaching out to council contacts.  In the coming weeks, she will present to the VicHealth Space Invaders conference on predatory industries about why it is vital that gambling is viewed and treated as a public health issue. Together with the Alliance's Advocacy and Policy Lead, Rose O'Leary, Rebecca will present to the Victorian Local Government Association's Local Government Working Group on Gambling. 

 

Rebecca says 'I'm really excited to join the wonderful team at the Alliance, and really looking forward to working with all of our passionate supporters and councils. I hope to meet you all over the coming months.  I feel really privileged to be a part of this organisation, which with the aid of dedicated supporters and councils, is making a tangible difference to the impact gambling has on all our lives and on our communities. My role revolves around the councils and supporters, so please feel free to get in touch with questions or ideas, and I'd be delighted to be able to assist you.'

 

Email: rebecca.paterson@agr.org.au

Opinion Pieces

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On pokies, it seems NSW Labor stands for social injustice

Rev Tim Costello

The Sydney Morning Herald

9/11/22

In more than 30 years of campaigning for gambling reform, I have not witnessed the anger that now exists at the excesses of the gambling industry.

Everyone I speak to is fed up with being bombarded by gambling ads on our screens. Australia is a virtually unregulated, Wild West for foreign-owned online sports gambling agencies that are registered in the Northern Territory and pay minimal tax.

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Federal government must introduce national gambling regulator

Rev Tim Costello

The Canberra Times

6/11/22

Most people were not offended by the tagline, gamble responsibly - that followed the multitude of gambling advertisements that we are bombarded with every day.

But if people understood the deliberate irresponsibility of the industry, the evidence that through its casinos and poker machines in pubs and clubs it has facilitated organised crime, fraud and money laundering involving billions of dollars - they would think differently.

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Pokies venues should be shut after midnight

Rev Tim Costello

The Age

24/10/22

Almost 20 years ago the Victorian government finally moved to impose closing hours on the state’s poker machine venues.

The laws were far from draconian. Venues were required to close for just four hours a day – which meant gambling could still happen in the wee small hours of the day when those who suffer the most gambling harm are likely to lose the most.

In The News

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More Australians gambling online as AMA calls for government regulation

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The AMA is calling on the federal government to do more to regulate online gambling platforms and advertising of online gambling products in a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Gambling and its Impacts on Those Experiencing Gambling Harm.

It comes as new research from the Australian Gambling Research Centre shows many Australians opened accounts with online gambling companies for the first time during COVID-19. Nearly 1 in 3 of those surveyed said they signed up for a new online betting account during COVID-19. Young men were the most likely group to sign up for new accounts, increase their monthly spend on gambling and be at risk of gambling related harm.

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‘Seriously flawed’ pokies grants scheme should be axed, says welfare group

The Sydney Morning Herald

NSW’s peak body for welfare services says the state government should axe a grants scheme funded from poker machine profits, warning clubs view the money as theirs “to spend as they see fit” at the expense of the disadvantaged communities it was designed to help.

The NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) also wants to end its 24-year association with ClubGrants after a review found the scheme that has handed out more than $1 billion was “seriously flawed, rife with opportunities for conflicts of interest, and had no real enforcement of the rules”.

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Gambling’s Spread

The New York Times

Four years ago, betting on live sports was illegal in most of the United States. Now, fans watching games or attending them at stadiums are barraged with advertisements encouraging them to bet on matchups, not just watch as spectators.

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Game, set, bankrupt: how an addiction to gambling on tennis lost me £40,000

The Guardian

The UK gambling industry is worth billions, with 5% of customers responsible for 70% of that revenue. That includes me – after my addiction spiralled in the pandemic

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‘Social casino’ apps: the games exempt from Australia’s gambling laws – because no one can win

The Guardian

The wheels of the virtual poker machine spin with every bet. Everything on the screen twinkles and shines. Coins jingle when the symbols line up and a win is recorded. A jackpot lights up the screen with colour and movement.

At first glance, Slotomania, a mobile phone game developed by the Israeli company Playtika, seems almost the same as any other electronic poker machine. Users pour tens of thousands of dollars into it, motivated by the same desire to win big that motivates any gambler.

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Scattered voters lose democracy sausage spirit

The Age

"You have to wonder why neither of the major parties will commit to pokie reforms, despite record losses in pokies by the Victorian community this year. Is it because they don’t want to help those with shocking gambling addictions or is it because they don’t want to lose support of gambling donations?" Sophie Paterson, Hawthorn

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Tabcorp urges ban on gambling ads on TV

Financial Review

Tabcorp managing director and CEO Adam Rytenskild has said Tabcorp will phase out gambling advertising during peak times even if the government does not enact new laws. The caveat on that deal (one source said) is that Tabcorp’s own stations such as Sky Racing – which run non-stop gambling ads – would be exempt from the proposed blackout.

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NSW cashless cards a must: whistleblower

The West Australian

Gambling whistleblower Troy Stolz hasn't wavered in his determination to take on one of the most powerful lobby groups in NSW, despite battling metastatic cancer.

For eight years he was the head of anti-money laundering with ClubsNSW, before leaving in 2019, leaking an internal report showing more than 90 per cent of gaming venues were not complying with money laundering regulations.

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Revealed: star football pundits promote World Cup gambling despite ban

The Guardian

Football pundits Harry Redknapp, Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane are helping to promote betting on World Cup matches despite stricter rules on celebrity gambling endorsements to protect young people.

Fifa officials estimate the last World Cup generated £120bn in betting turnover. Gambling companies hope for a similar betting spree for this year’s tournament, despite a ban on gambling in Qatar.

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Victorian election: Daniel Andrews’ $10.7bn punting tax windfall

The Australian

Almost $10.7bn of gambling taxes will be raised by the Andrews government over the life of this year’s budget, sparking calls by national campaigners for more independent support for the addicted and a cashless pokies card system in Victoria.

Latest budget figures show an average of almost $2.7bn a year will be reaped by Victorian Labor over the next four years from gaming machines, racing, the casino and lotteries as Australia recovers from the pandemic.

TAKE ACTION

“How can I stop gambling ads?”

It’s no secret that sports gambling advertising has increased exponentially, with free-to-air TV broadcasting almost 1000 ads per day-  even during prime family viewing.
Want to help us end gambling ads? Here’s how!

 

1. Report the advertising to Freeview Australia, and the ACMA.

For complaints about the frequency of gambling advertisements:

2. For complaints about the content of gambling advertisements (where they are offensive or misleading):

 

Key things to include are:

The channel, the time, the number of gambling ads (including companies); and why you are calling on them to take action.

You can find all of the information about this here.

Our
Social Media

It has been busy for gambling reform in Australia with action across multiple states, with our CEO, Chief Advocate and our Voices advocates (including Anna Bardsley on ABC national news) featuring in all major media outlets.

Here’s some of the highlights!

  • On November 9, Our Chief Advocate, Rev Tim Costello called out the NSW Labor party regarding their inaction in the wake of the findings of NSW Crime Commission. You can read his Opinion piece here
     

  • Rev Costello also published an opinion piece in the Canberra Times, calling for a National Regulator, and raising awareness of how the industry preys on the most vulnerable members of our society.
     

  • The alarming findings of the NSW Crime Commission underscore the critical need for the NSW Government to urgently introduce a cashless gambling card across all its pubs, clubs and casinos. More from Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello 👉 https://bit.ly/3f3LWGg.
     

  • "I can't imagine another sector where we would see these kinds of breaches and criminal activity occurring where there would be no consequences. Absolutely none."
    - Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO Carol Bennett. Research has found that casinos have facilitated money laundering and colluded with criminals - so why haven't any charges been brought against executives or directors?
    Watch the ABC news report here 👉 https://youtu.be/DpzmOLJVql4

     

  • We’ve also called for uniform operating hours of EGM venues throughout Victoria:
    Poker machine venues must close for four hours a day, but the specific hours are not mandated. The laws are ineffective and larger operators have exploited a loophole to allow people to continue to gamble 24 hours a day. Despite this, there are a few reasons to be optimistic. Read Rev Costello's OpEd in The Age.

    You can read our policy paper here. It makes recommendations about a sensible, mandatory closing time from midnight to 10am.

  • Our CEO, Ms Carol Bennett, featured in the New Daily, discussing the welcome (small) steps of changing the ‘gamble responsibly’ tagline.  “For too long we have blamed individuals for gambling harm and in fact, we know that gambling is a public health issue and it should be treated as one”.
     

  • We’ve also celebrated Ladbrokes and Neds hearing the outcry of gamble advertising, and removing sports guernsey advertising from 2023.
     

  • We’ve shared the latest independent survey of 1611 eligible voters, showing that 61% thought gambling ads should be banned. 👉 https://bit.ly/3NtAW1C
     

  • We’ve celebrated out Leadership Councils, such as Hobson’s Bay, with their fantastic gambling harm reduction policies
     

  • Our Lived experience advocates have shared their stories from personal losses.
    You can read Daniel’s story, from Regional Ballarat; as well as our Voices, Paul and Anna featuring on SBS’s “Too hard basket” podcast. *warning: these stories contain triggering themes.

     

  • There have been calls for Star Casino in Queensland to lose its licence, with our Chief Advocate, Tim Costello calling that they should be found unfit to hold a casino licence in Queensland. (read more here)
     

Missed any news?
You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@reformgambling), and LinkedIn; as well as see all of our latest press releases and Opinion pieces via our website.

SUPPORT
the Alliance for Gambling Reform

"I am proud to support you at Alliance for Gambling Reform - the work you and Tim Costello and your team do is very important.  I don’t want my kids and grandkids thinking gambling is a normal part of watching sport, going to a club or hotel, or even just being on-line.  Gambling should not be such a fundamental part of Australian culture." David

 

If you want to join David and hundreds of our supporters helping us make Australia a better place - donate here.

The Alliance is an independent charity reliant on donations and supporters to continue the work we do. The need for our work has grown substantially over the last few years so we need your help to ensure we are able to grow with the critical need for change!

 

Financially we are a drop in the ocean compared to the gambling industry, yet this movement is picking up pace and thanks to you, change is happening.

All donations are tax-deductible.

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.

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