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Carol Bennett

Chief Executive Officer

Message from the CEO

The last couple of months have seen a significant shift in community
awareness and concern about gambling related harm across Australia. 

This has followed the Royal Commission into Crown Victoria and WA
casinos and various inquiries into casinos around the country including Star
Sydney and Queensland and South Australia. The Alliance, in addition to
our ongoing media and public advocacy, has made numerous submissions
and provided witnesses to these enquiries across a number of states and
importantly, ensured that the voices of those with lived experience are
heard and heeded.

A few notable achievements in reducing gambling harm occurred. Most
significantly, the Tasmanian government has decided (and achieved
bipartisan support) to introduce mandatory pre-commitment and cashless
gambling cards. Following on from Victor Dominello’s digital wallet trial in
NSW which saw him be moved on from his responsibility in this area, it is
wonderful to see Tasmania show the leadership to introduce possibly the
most substantial harm reduction measure. We are hopeful other states will
follow suit….

The Alliance joined with local community advocates in Alice Springs to
advocate for new poker machine licenses to be rejected. The Northern
Territory government decided on a 9 month moratorium on new poker
machine licences in central Australia which is a step forward in reducing
harm in that community.

And a very welcome national parliamentary inquiry into online gambling has
been launched. With the growing impact of online gambling in our
communities, this inquiry will enable much needed exploration of the
current trends, research, lived experience of harm and possible solutions.
The Alliance will provide a submission informed by our Voices lived
experience group.

Finally, a significant report on gambling losses in 5 states arrived at a
conservative figure $11.74b which is a staggering and world leading result.
Read more about this research and the various activities on the Alliance’s
radar in this edition.

Thanks for your continuing support

Carol Bennett

Alliance for Gambling Reform CEO

Record-breaking $11B Losses


New research leads to calls to establish a national gambling regulator.

Australians lost more than $11.4 billion to poker machines in pubs and clubs across five states last year according to the first comprehensive, national analysis of available loss figures which cements Australia as the world’s biggest losers to poker machines per person.  


And the researchers warn that without the pandemic restrictions, hotel and club gambling machine losses are likely to exceed $13 billion next year.


The new figures, compiled by Dr Charles Livingstone of the Gambling and Social Determinants Unit at Monash University also show that in the 30 years to 2019 (the latest available figures) poker machine losses in hotels and clubs in Australia amounted to $308.4 billion. Note that poker machines are not permitted in clubs and hotels in WA. Relevant data was also not readily available for ACT or the NT.


The chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, said the losses reveal the extent of the gambling crisis that is devastating families and communities across the country, a ‘hidden epidemic’ that demands a nationally coordinated and urgent government response.


“The federal government must establish a national gambling harm regulator that can coordinate efforts to reduce the terrible toll gambling is wreaking on Australian society,” Rev Costello said.


“A regulator can bring the states together, it can progressively reduce the number of poker machines, it can fast-track harm minimisation measures such as digital wallets. At the moment there is no coordination and no will to act.”


Monash University Associate Professor Charles Livingstone, said pandemic restrictions had reduced losses in NSW and Victoria by 17% or 1.6 billion.


“Previous trends are likely to resume after the easing of pandemic restrictions with hotel and club gambling machines total expenditure for 2022-23 likely to exceed $13 billion across Australia,” Professor Livingstone said.


The annual loss of $11.4 billion in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania is the equivalent to a loss of $658 for every adult resident of those States.


Amongst people who use poker machines, average losses were $3,429 p.a. across the five states.


Our media release and key data are available here.

Federal inquiry into online gambling


The Australian House of Representatives have announced a federal inquiry into online gambling. 

This is a welcome step in the right direction towards meaningful reforms that can protect our communities from the growing and harmful impacts of the complex online gambling environment.

The Terms of Reference allow the inquiry to look at online gambling holistically, from treatment, to impact on children and appropriateness of current regulations.  It will even explore the impact of Facial Recognition Technology.

The Alliance will be proactively engaging in this inquiry and invites your thoughts on the issues.   Please send to Tara at 

Read more about the inquiry here.

Tasmania’s mandatory pre-commitment policy


The Tasmanian Government has committed to implementing a mandatory pre-commitment, cashless card scheme on all poker machines in pubs, clubs and the casinos. The Alliance has long advocated for mandatory pre-commitment on all poker machines as an evidence-based effective tool to prevent gambling harm so we applaud the Tasmanian government for taking this initiative and hope it will extend to other jurisdictions. Read our media release here 

Star Casino Inquiry Outcomes

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Qld and South Australia Inquiry Submissions


After months of work highlighting lived experience of gambling harm at the Star Casino, the Bell inquiry report was published. The Alliance worked closely with people harmed at Star to ensure they could tell their story of harm and have an impact on the outcomes and recommendations of Bell’s final report. 


The Star Sydney were found unfit to hold their licence and the NSW Premier himself called them ‘absolutely horrendous.’ To read the report in full click here


AGR CEO Carol Bennett provided comment on the lack of accountability for casino board members and specifically in relation to Star’s plan to continue to operate despite the inquiry findings

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has welcomed the recommendations from the Gotterson review that uncovered appalling failures at Star Casinos in Queensland. Read our media release here.

The South Australian SkyCity inquiry is still underway

The Alliance has worked with people with lived experience of gambling harm to ensure their voices continue to be heard in these inquiries and that those investigating casinos have the most up to date and robust evidence and research backing recommendations made around preventing and reducing gambling harm. 

we keenly await the findings and actions taken from these inquiries.

 The final Gotterson report can be found here.

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The Alliance made a submission to the Victorian Suicide Prevention and Reponse strategy last month highlighting the importance of the strategy having a dedicated focus on gambling related suicides. 

You can read our submission here.

Opinion Pieces


People need protection from gaming excesses

Carol Bennett, AGR CEO

The Australian Financial Review


Joe Aston has laid bare the hypocrisy and delusion of the leaders of our rapidly growing gambling sector (“Sportsbet CEO Barni Evans is kidding himself”, Rear Window, March 23). It should surprise nobody that the CEO of a foreign-owned online gambling company is seen to put profits before the welfare of Australians.


As NSW election looms, the tide is turning on the powerful gambling industry

Carol Bennett, AGR CEO

Croakey Health Media


Just as Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring, led to a shift in how people viewed the pesticide DDT, so too is a fundamental shift needed in how people view gambling and the powerful industry involved, according to public health experts in England.

“As we struggle with a cost-of-living crisis, we must ask why we seem unable to act against a powerful industry that, in effect, acts as a mechanism for transferring money from the poor and vulnerable to the wealthy and privileged,” they write in the BMJ. “When will the gambling industry have its Silent Spring moment?”


Pokies venues should be shut after midnight

Rev Tim Costello

The Age


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.


Carol Bennett: How helpful is facial recognition in pubs and clubs in tackling problem gambling?

Carol Bennett, AGR CEO

The Canberra Times


It should be alarming to people that when they next go into their local pub or club they could have their faces scanned and their data stored.

There is a growing industry push across the nation to use new facial recognition technology.


Gambling is the new tobacco, it's time we took urgent action

By Carol Bennett

The Canberra Times


In 1994, the executives of seven of the world’s largest tobacco companies appeared before the US Congress and infamously declared that nicotine was not addictive. History subsequently shows they were lying, their own research revealed how addictive tobacco was but they buried the findings.

Today government regulations strictly limits tobacco availability and promotion to reduce the harm it causes our health, our lives and the wider economy. Ironically, this is far from the case when it comes to another profound ‘public harm’, gambling.


On pokies, it seems NSW Labor stands for social injustice

Rev Tim Costello

The Sydney Morning Herald


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.


We need stronger, national curbs on gambling

Rev Tim Costello

The Australian


Activists from the Grassroots Action Network of Tasmania protest against poker machines outside Parliament House in November 2021.

The departure of Star Entertainment Group’s acting chief, Geoff Hogg, could not have come at a worse time for the group, which on Tuesday is due to plead its case to the NSW casino regulator after it was found unfit to hold its licence.


Perrottet has rolled the dice. Now Minns must up the ante

Rev Tim Costello

The Sydney Morning Herald


I have had the tragic duty of presiding over the funerals of six people who have committed suicide due to their gambling. Their losses, their shame, their losing battle to stop gambling – all became too much. The pain suffered by family and friends is indescribable. The loss of life is so senseless and horrific. It is why I have been such a prominent campaigner for gambling reform for more than three decades.


Federal government must introduce national gambling regulator

Rev Tim Costello

The Canberra Times


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.


Gambling is changing why we watch the AFL grand final and other sporting events

Rev Tim Costello

The Canberra Times


As we approach the AFL Grand Final and the completion of another season we often ask - how is the health of the game?

The Hawthorn racism scandal has exploded into the media at the very time the league celebrates its season's zenith. It is too early to tell what these revelations will mean for other teams and the wider league.

In The News


Historic Sunshine Coast pub ditches pokies to create family friendly atmosphere

ABC News

Jessica Huddart bought a 114-year-old pub in June last year, and on Tuesday she ripped out the poker machines to send them to the rubbish tip.

Mapleton Public House in the Sunshine Coast hinterland had six gaming machines near the bar, but Ms Huddart wanted to improve the atmosphere.


CEO Carol Bennett on 10 News First

10 News First


We blew up the pokies, brought back the music and lifted turnover 700%

The Sydney Morning Herald

Pokies aren’t just bad for health and bad for society, they are anti-business and anti-innovation. They make businesses lazy. They make governments lazy. They serve as a form of social subsidy stopping businesses from failing when they should. They act as a possibility levee, stopping ideas from thriving when they should.


People need protection from gaming excesses

The Australian Financial Review

Joe Aston has laid bare the hypocrisy and delusion of the leaders of our rapidly growing gambling sector (“Sportsbet CEO Barni Evans is kidding himself”, Rear Window, March 23). It should surprise nobody that the CEO of a foreign-owned online gambling company is seen to put profits before the welfare of Australians.


‘I was in hell’: Poker machine users reflect on their addictions

The Sydney Morning Herald

Kate was just 18 when she put her first dollar into a pokie. For Tim, it wasn’t his only addiction. And Ben stole his then-wife’s birthday money while she looked for it. These are their stories.


Investigating Australia's gambling addiction | 101 East documentary

East Documentary

'Australia's gambling addiction and place as the world's biggest losers in the world laid bare by our Chief Advocate Tim Costello and #voices4gamblingreform Kate Selsja on @Al Jazeera program 101 East.


Young men biggest at-risk group for gambling

The Alliance for Gambling Reform says past efforts to ban gambling on credit have been clumsily framed and at least in part relied on the gambling industry to self-regulate. It notes that while credit cards can’t be used in licenced ven­ues, casinos or TABs, there is no tracking of cash taken from credit accounts out of ATMs. And the restrictions on online gambling providers to offering credit to customers doesn’t extend to on-course bookmakers or telephone-based services.

“These loopholes and exceptions means people are falling into a pit of debt; our political leaders must move to protect people at risk of gambling harm. The industry will never do this because they are intent on boosting their fat profits,” alliance chief executive Carol Bennett said.


Gambling is the new tobacco, it's time we took urgent action

The Canberra Times

In 1994, the executives of seven of the world's largest tobacco companies appeared before the US Congress and infamously declared that nicotine was not addictive. History subsequently shows they were lying, their own research revealed how addictive tobacco was but they buried the findings.

Today government regulations strictly limits tobacco availability and promotion to reduce the harm it causes our health, our lives and the wider economy. Ironically, this is far from the case when it comes to another profound public harm, gambling.


Is the pokies lobby running out of luck?

ABC News

"Revenue from the pokies industry buys a lot of politicians, a lot of media, it buys just about everything. That’s why it’s so hard to reform.” Join The Alliance's Tim Costello and Insiders ABC host David Speers for a discussion on ABC Radio National.


Call for cashless gambling


The push from the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) follows an announcement from New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet that all pubs and clubs in the state must introduce cashless gaming systems across all poker machines by 2028.

In December , Hume residents spent more than $12 million on pokies, up on the prior two months by at least $470,000. In Sunbury, more than $11.5 million was lost on EGMs across six clubs between July and December last year.


ReThink Addiction Conference


Carol Bennett (AGR CEO), Anna Bardsley (AGR Voices for Gambling Reform Coordinator), Kate Seselja and Paul Fung

The inaugural ReThink Addiction National Convention was held in Canberra from September 12-14.

It was an historic opportunity to come together to change the conversation around addiction, including the harm caused by gambling. With a fantastic line-up of speakers including AGR's Voices: Anna Bardsley, Kate Seselja and Gavin Fineff and a closing statement from CEO Carol Bennett.  It also featured a video from Three Sides of the Coin.

Read more about the conference here and here.


Carol Bennett (AGR CEO), Gavin Fineff and Anna Bardsley (AGR Voices for Gambling Reform Coordinator)

Tim’s Mornington peninsula Event

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Ken (Voices for Gambling Reform, lived experience advocate), Joy (Uniting Church), Rose O’Leary (Reform and Advocacy, AGR), and Rev Tim Costello (Chief Advocate, AGR).

The Mornington Peninsula community has lost $45 million to poker machines in the past six months, eight per cent more than before the COVID pandemic. Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello and Rose O’Leary, our advocacy and policy manager discussed these escalating losses and the high number of machines within the municipality at a free forum last month at St Marks Uniting Church, Barkly Street, Mornington. @MPnews 👉

Progress in Poker Machine Reform Seminar: Geelong

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Geelong has experienced record breaking losses of over $11.6M in July 2022; having lost over 2.3B in the 30 years since poker machines were introduced to Victoria.

Come along on Sunday 9 October to hear from our Chief Advocate, Rev Tim Costello discuss gambling harm, the latest poker machine reforms and what can be done to prevent and reduce further harm from gambling.

The event commences at 2pm at St Luke’s Uniting Church, Highton; with an afternoon tea provided.

Join our team

We’re hiring! Join our dynamic team as our new Supporters and Councils Coordinator!
Working to prevent and reduce gambling harm in Australia, you’ll be working with a range of organisations and local councils.

This full-time role provides the opportunity to lead and engage with key stakeholders and make a real difference in gambling reform.

We are inviting you to become an Alliance for Gambling Reform Supporter

Our kids are growing up in a world awash with gambling ads, major sports are controlled by pro-gambling interests, Australians dominate the global ladder of leading poker machine losses, and it seems you can only run a casino in Australia if you are unfit to hold a casino licence. 


But little by little, the Alliance for Gambling Reform is challenging the power of the gambling industry in Australia. 

We are inviting you to become a Gambling Reform Supporter and enable us 

to continue this critical work.

Join us and help change the way gambling is impacting our families and communities.

 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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Social Media

Here are some of our most popoular stories on social media.
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You can also see all the latest media featuring the Alliance for Gambling Reform via our website.

You can also view our latest Media Releases.

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