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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


Can we really trust clubs to help gamblers?

Martin Thomas

The Canberra Times


The ACT is among the most advanced in the country in pushing towards a mandatory, cashless gambling card.

Evidence shows such a card with pre-set and binding limits will be the best weapon we have in effectively curbing gambling harm.

And according to the NSW Crime Commission it will not only limit gambling harm but it will also tackle the billions of dollars from the proceeds of crime that is fed into poker machines across the country every year.


Pokies venues bet on community goodwill over gambling revenue

Carol Bennett

Institute of Community Directors Australia


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.

There is a growing backlash against gambling in Australia.

Across Australia’s eastern states, clubs and pubs are increasingly shunning poker machines.

In some cases, it’s a response to falling revenue, but mostly it is a response by clubs and pubs to the growing anger across the nation about the intolerable and devastating gambling losses we all pay a price for.

Australians lose more to gambling than any other country on a per capita basis. Our losses top a staggering $25 billion every year – and poker machines (in our pubs and clubs alone) account for more than $14 billion of these loses.


Online gambling does great harm. Why is government rolling the dice with public health?

Rev Tim Costello, Chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform


When is a parliamentary inquiry not a real parliamentary inquiry? When the minister responsible decides to hold a series of private meetings, behind closed doors, with organisations that have a vested interest in the outcome – many of which didn’t bother to put in a submission to the public inquiry.


The gambling industry gets a ringside seat at the University of Sydney research centre

Rev Tim Costello

The Guardian


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.


Gambling industry now targeting and grooming children

Martin Thomas

The Canberra Times


Our kids are being deliberately targeted and groomed by the gambling industry.

A new pilot study released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education last week revealed children as young as 14 were being targeted by social media ads urging them to download gambling apps on their phones.


Does anyone have a chance in a race against big gambling?

Rev Tim Costello

The Advocate


Is Australia's political system corrupt?

Can money and power buy the outcomes it wants and do our political leaders yield to their influence if it aligns with their own personal interests or the interests of their party?


Money talks: How the gambling industry imposes untold misery on our nation

Rev Tim Costello

Community Directors


It’s time for the not-for-profit sector to step up and champion the need for gambling reform, writes the chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello.

Australia has a dire need for the philanthropic sector to fund efforts to curb gambling harm in Australia.

The need is critical because of the catastrophic failure of government to protect our community from the impact of gambling.

Australians lose more to gambling – $24 billion annually – per capita than any other country on the planet.


Strong links between gambling and suicide need to be considered in reform

Carol Bennett

The Canberra Times


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.


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

By Tim Costello - Chief Advocate - Alliance for Gambling Reform

The Canberra Times


Amid the national spotlight that has finally shone on Australia’s domestic violence crisis, the AFL decided that in all their games last weekend 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’.


Gambling reform in Tasmania is too important not have bipartisan support

Rev Tim Costello

Examiner newspaper


If Tasmania successfully progresses with its plans to introduce a cashless pokies card, it will represent a 'gold standard' in reducing gambling harm.


A bad bet: super funds gambling stocks reflect our national blind spot

Carol Bennett

Croakey Health Media


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 ACT needs to go all in on cashless gambling now

Rev Tim Costello

The Canberra Times


The ACT should be among the first jurisdictions in Australia to introduce significant gambling reform in the shape of a mandatory cashless gambling card.

The move would be groundbreaking, representing a major blow to a predatory gambling industry that costs Australians more than $27 billion in losses every year - more per capita than any other country on the planet.

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

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.


BWS gains licence for New South Wales lottery sales


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.


Cruise Line Faces Backlash After Man Commits Suicide Following Casino Losses


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.”


Alleged data leak blackmailer could face years in jail

Eden Magnet

Alliance for Gambling Reform said 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 they are with the mountain of private information they routinely collect from the public, without direct consent," chief executive Carol Bennett said in a statement.


Man arrested after club visitor data exposed in breach

The Senior

Alliance for Gambling Reform said 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 they are with the mountain of private information they routinely collect from the public, without direct consent," chief executive Carol Bennett said in a statement.


The power of the people will change this

Community Radio Geelong

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.


Increasing availability of lottery tickets and scratchies is 'normalising' gambling, advocates say

ABC News

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.


Canberra club members believed to be spared worst of data breach


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.


Man charged with blackmail over clubs data leak

The New Daily

Alliance for Gambling Reform said 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 they are with the mountain of private information they routinely collect from the public, without direct consent,” chief executive Carol Bennett said.


First NSW cashless gaming trial results criticised as further trials continue

Drinks Trade

The report into the cashless gaming trial conducted at Wests Newcastle has received criticism from various industry stakeholders after it showed the technology to have little impact on the behaviour of gamblers.

The main areas of concern have stemmed from the trial’s lack of harm-reducing features and lack of features that encourage continued participation.

“It was mostly about testing the technology and a little bit of a hint towards harm minimisation,” said Carol Bennet, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

“I would have liked to see more on the harm minimisation front.”


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

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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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