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Message from the CEO
Gambling Harm Awareness Week in October provided a good opportunity to celebrate progress being made around the country on gambling reform, while pushing for further reform addressing the escalating national losses and other gambling harms.
And with poker machine losses at $14.5b across five states - 13.7% higher than the last full pre-covid year 2018-19, Australians are coming in first as the world biggest gambling losers by a mile. It all seems at odds with the current cost of living crisis, but in another way makes sense that when people are feeling pressure they might be seeking out a quick win or a way to escape the daily reality. Either way, as the tagline says ‘chances are you are about to lose’ and these losses translate into significant and growing harm across our communities.
This is confirmed by research from Angela Rintoul highlighting the link between suicide and gambling released last month.
Compelling new research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies Australian Gambling Research Centre National Gambling Trends Study has also confirmed that regular gamblers aged between 18 and 34 years old are at the greatest risk of gambling harm.
A new Alliance Position Paper, ‘Australian Superannuation Fund Investments in Gambling’, reveals that the ten biggest funds all hold at least one major gambling shareholding in their portfolio. This is particularly disappointing when you consider that some super funds claim that they are investing member funds ethically!
On the national front, we have seen some promised reforms legislated including a ban on credit, the new Betstop self-exclusion scheme and changes to gaming products with gambling like features. While the Alliance would like to see legislation in all these areas go further, this certainly signals a positive change.
And with technology and expansion of gambling occurring at a rapid pace, the Alliance has joined with CHOICE and over 20 other groups to underscore the critical need for comprehensive and robust privacy reforms.
There has been a flurry of policy activity across states and federally and the Alliance has been hard at work providing submissions and meeting with key politicians to ensure that reforms do achieve their objectives to reduce harm. Our leadership councils are more active than ever before in working to do this in their communities with harm prevention policies and forums being rolled out at pace. These are all good signs on the road towards an Australia free from gambling harm!
Join us to end gambling harm by making a regular donation of just $10 a month to support our End Gambling Ads Campaign
This Gambling Harm Awareness Week we are asking supporters to help us respond to the soon to be released government response to the federal inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing harm.
It is critical we continue to grow our campaign to ensure all 31 recommendations are implemented by the government! You can donate here: https://www.agr.org.au/donate
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investing billions in gambling stocks
Disclosure regime ‘patently inadequate’ to hold funds accountable
One major Australian industry super fund - which boasts one million members and which promotes itself as a responsible investor - holds more than $351 million in gambling-relating equities, according to new analysis by the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
You can read the Media Release here
Read our position paper
Read the breaking news article from the Sydney Morning Herald
Find out more about HESTA's investments here
Alex is a consumer, who is outraged at HESTA's investments. (Image credit to Joe Armao, The Age/ Sydney Morning Herald)
Poker machine losses surge to a staggering all-time high of $14.5 billion
Figures collated for the Alliance by the Monash University Gambling and Social Determinants Unit at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine show that the $14.5b in losses across five states was 13.7% higher than 2018-19, the last full financial year not to be impacted by COVID restrictions.
The states that experienced the biggest spikes in losses were South Australia (up 34.6%), Queensland (up 33.6%) and New South Wales (up 23.7%). Victoria had an increase in losses of 12%.
Find out more here.
QLD loses over $5 billion dollars to gambling.
In 2022-2023, gambling losses in Queensland were greater than $5 billion across the state, increasing by over half a billion dollars from the previous financial year!
"These are extraordinary figures at a time when we know that people are doing it tough” said Alliance CEO Carol Bennett.
The majority of these losses occurred through poker machines (63.2%), followed by the casino, lotteries, and online gambling.
You can find out more here.
Promising reform in video games with gambling features welcomed
From September 2024 video games with simulated gambling such as social casinos will be legally restricted to adults only with a classification of R18+, however video games with loot boxes will be given a minimum classification of M15+. The Alliance believes while this is a good step, games with loot boxes should be given an R18+ rating due to the harmful impact they are having on young people.
Read our submission on the proposal here.
To read the Federal Government’s media release click here.
Alarming new research into gambling harm from the Australian Institute of Family Studies
On the 26th of October the Australian Institute of Family Studies Australian Gambling Research Centre published findings as part of their National Gambling Trends Study.
The study highlighted that regular gamblers aged between 18 and 34 years old are at the greatest risk of harm. These gamblers gamble an average of $1,453 a month across all forms of gambling. Young people who regularly gamble on poker machines were most likely to meet the criteria of ‘at-risk’ gambling with 89% sitting in this category.
This report stresses the need for reforms across all forms of gambling, especially poker machines and online gambling to improve the wellbeing of Australians.
You can read the media release and reports here.
In other research, the convergence of tech, games, social media & gambling is leading to a hidden but alarming rise in gambling harm among Aussie kids.
Dr Tahmed’s research highlights how many kids don't identify their actions as gambling, viewing it as extended gaming - a highly concerning idea.
You can find out more here.
Latest research shows devastating link between gambling harm and suicide
Warning: This article may be distressing to some readers.
New research shows alarming links between gambling and suicide. "We have always known there was a strong link between gambling and suicide," says Alliance CEO Carol Bennett.
Read our media release here.
Over 20 advocates and researchers call for urgent privacy reform - stronger laws will protect people from data breaches and misuse
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has joined with CHOICE and over 20 other groups to underscore the critical need for comprehensive and robust privacy reforms. An open letter from the group emphasised the importance of safeguarding individuals' personal information in an increasingly digital and data-driven world.
Alliance CEO, Carol Bennett said lax privacy laws have allowed the gambling industry to commercialise people's information, especially children and those who struggle with gambling addiction.
Read full story and letter here.
Record fines for Tabcorp, plus more news from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission
We commend the VGCCC's decision to impose a $1 million fine on Tabcorp for their non-compliance with the Commission's directions.
This demonstrates the necessity for transparency and cooperation in the gambling industry, ensuring the protection of consumers and integrity of systems.
You can find out more here.
VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt talked to ABC Radio’s Virginia Trioli asking why venues would bother to intervene to prevent gambling harm when it goes against their commercial interests. Listen here (Link 1)
This month, the VGCCC also charged the Tower Hotel operator for failing to have YourPlay available.
“Any venue operator that fails to provide players with the ability to set time and spend limits through the YourPlay system is in breach of a key legal obligation aimed at protecting the community from gambling harm" said VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt.
Ban on gambling with credit welcomed
In October, the Federal Government announced legislation that will ban the use of credit cards for most types of gambling in Australia.
We welcome this development, as it will certainly make a strong impact towards gambling harm reduction.
We are disappointed however, that the government chose to ignore a plea to exempt lotteries and Keno.
Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2023:
Let’s bring home gambling reforms!
On 16 October 2023, the Alliance for Gambling Reform hosted the webinar, "Let’s bring home gambling reforms”.
CEO Carol Bennett facilitated this inspirational event featuring a panel of fantastic guest speakers advocating for gambling reforms.
Thank you to:
Kate Chaney MP, Independent MP for Curtin, and member of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Inquiry into Online Gambling and its Impact on Those Experiencing Harm.
Senator David Pocock, Independent Senator for ACT, known for his dedication to driving legislative change.
John, who has lived experience of gambling harm, reminding us of the real-life consequences that fuel our commitment to reform.
And of course our Chief Advocate Tim Costello, a leading voice in the fight against gambling harm.
For those who missed the discussion, catch up here.
If you wish to keep supporting our work, please keep up the pressure and help push for all recommendations from the Federal Inquiry into Online Gambling to be acted upon.
Reach out to your Federal MPs here
Policy and Submissions
The Alliance published our responses to several state and federal inquiries and consultations:
ACT Inquiry into Gaming Machine Amendment Bill – this amendment will ensure new poker machine venues are not placed in the Molonglo Valley and other undeveloped areas of the ACT.
The inquiry into the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and other measures Bill) 2023 – a federal inquiry looking into the proposed legislation to ban credit for gambling online.
Councils and Supporters
Councils all across Victoria joined the Alliance for Gambling Reform to recognise Gambling Harm Awareness Week from 17 October. It was so wonderful to hear from the VGCCC on their new direction, and how Councils and communities can play a part in reducing gambling harm.
Leadership Councils also joined us for a workshop on improving local government sector opportunities to work with the VGCCC.
Mornington Peninsula Shire and Frankston Council teamed up for a discussion called Talk. Share. Support. A community conversation about gambling harm. Community members came together to hear from our Chief Advocate, Tim Costello, local sporting clubs and people with lived experience of gambling and to discuss how the community can support reducing harm from gambling. Great team work councils!
Community members came together to hear from our Chief Advocate, Rev Tim Costello, local sporting clubs and people with lived experience of gambling.
Hume City Council packed out the Hume Global Learning Centre in Craigieburn on 2 October for an unmissable symposium on gambling harm. There were Councillors and officers from numerous councils, politicians, the VGCCC, VRGF, gambling harm advocates, researchers and community stakeholders in the room as we heard perspectives from a number of expert guest speakers and listened to the stories from those with lived experience of gambling harm. Both council officers and Hume councillors should be applauded for their dedication to reducing gambling harm. Special thanks to Mayor Joseph Haweil who facilitated the event and whose dedication and passion is instrumental in keeping advocacy at the forefront of Hume Councils priorities.
Read more about the event: Hume City in gambling harm conversation ahead of major state reform - Hume City Council
It’s also fantastic to see that another Leadership Council, Hobsons Bay - have adopted a new policy to tackle gambling harm in their community. Gambling Harm Prevention Policy.
Braybrook Hotel in the City of Maribyrnong have applied to the VGCCC to extend their closing hours from 1am to 3am. Both Maribyrnong and Brimbank Councils are taking a strong stand against the application. Read more: Odds stacked against hotel | Maribyrnong & Hobsons Bay
Councils: If you’d like to share what you have been working on to prevent gambling harm in your community, please send copy to Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org
We invite you to share your personal experiences of gambling harm in Australia. Whether you've faced this challenge yourself or witnessed the struggles of someone close to you, your story has the power to inspire change and improve awareness.
We know that all communities are impacted by gambling, but the true impact is often hidden. Real stories from real people who’ve experienced gambling harm are a powerful vehicle for influencing social change. Your lived experience offers valuable insight into the consequences of gambling for our whole community. Your story will help us to advocate for change that benefits everyone.
You can remain anonymous if you prefer. Nothing will be shared or published without your consent.
14 October 2023
Lottery exemption from credit gambling ban a mistake that will cause harm
9 October 2023
4 October 2023
30 September 2023
29 September 2023
12 September 2023
A bad bet: super funds gambling stocks reflect our national blind spot
Croakey Health Media
9 Nov 2023
Australia has a very big blind spot when it comes to gambling and the immense harm it causes in the community.
Gambling harm is not treated as a public health issue like other ‘harmful, legal’ products such as tobacco or alcohol. There is little or no government funding of research or public education to better understand just how harmful gambling can be.
Of course, it is not a natural blind spot; it is one that has been carefully curated and bankrolled by the billion-dollar gambling industry.
It is an industry that outspends virtually all others when it comes to advertising, with over a million gambling advertisements broadcast on free-to-air television and on radio alone in the 12 months to April 2023.
The gambling industry gets a ringside seat at the University of Sydney research centre
Rev Tim Costello
18 Oct 2023
This week Sydney University announced it has established a centre for excellence in gambling research. This centre is substantially funded by the International Center (sic) for Responsible Gaming, as well as Entain Australia and Sportsbet.
Entain Australia and Sportsbet are subsidiaries of international gambling operators, and run major online bookmaking businesses in Australia, as well as other global operations.
Strong links between gambling and suicide need to be considered in reform
The Canberra Times
20 Sept 2023
New research undertaken by Federation University in collaboration with the Coroners Court of Victoria, examined the Victorian Suicide Register which revealed at least 184 suicides were directly related to gambling. There were another 17 gambling-attributed suicides by "affected others" such as family members.
In The News
‘Playing us for years’: how pokies profits have funded tax-deductible spending within Australian clubs
26 November 2023
It is part of a scheme that the anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello says is Australia’s most shameless rort.
“When I learned what was going on, I felt really, really angry,” Mitchell says. “Pokies, to put it bluntly, have got people committing suicide. It’s led to divorces. It’s got people on welfare and food bank parcels. And yet, it’s able to present itself as a community benefit. From my point of view, it was totally misleading.”
'Captured' Minns Government not serious about pokies reform, says anti-gambling advocate
1 November 2023
Reverend Costello said these figures were “extraordinary” given the small population in the region and criticised the State Government for what he said was a lack of action on the issue.
“[Premier] Minns doesn’t want to reform pokies … Labor has five pokies venues, five in NSW, it’s too lucrative for them. They’re putting the party’s interest way before people’s interest.
You want money laundering with that? Minns’ pokie policy jumps the shark
18 October 2023
There are times in public policy when even the most practised suppression of the ethical gag reflex is tested to its outer limits. On Tuesday, the ethical stench surrounding the NSW Minns government’s position on poker machines had many reaching for the Buscopan Forte to cope with the nausea.
“Gambling costs aren’t just measured in dollars; there are also family impacts including time away from loved ones, impacts on physical and mental health, and community impacts,” lamented David Harris, the NSW minister for gaming and racing.
How do we prevent young people from gambling?
11 October 2023
A Conversation Hour not to be missed - "How do we stop young people gambling?' Listen to Alliance CEO Carol Bennett alongside a number of brilliant guest speakers and community members calling in to highlight the huge impact gambling online is having on young people.
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