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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


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.


After 25 years of losing, I’ve just had a win on the pokies




Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello is full of praise for Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews' recently announced pokies reforms. Now he wants other leaders to follow suit.

Two weeks ago, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced sweeping reforms for pokies. For me, after 25 years of campaigning, it was the beginning of the end of a state government protection racket for a predatory industry that has caused so much harm to Victorians. Congratulations, Dan.


Labor's gambling ties holding back proper reform

Carol Bennett

The Canberra Times


Opposition Leader Peter Dutton was right to put gambling, and more particularly sports gambling advertising, in the national spotlight in his budget reply speech to Parliament last week.
With Australians losing $25 billion to gambling every year - more than any other country - it is an issue that has profound financial, societal and health impacts for the country.


After the New South Wales election, some expert advice for the new Government

Carol Bennett, AGR CEO

Croakey Health Media


"At the very least, given the results in this election, we expect the cashless gambling card will continue to be strongly pushed in both the lower and upper houses of the NSW Parliament." said Alliance CEO Carol Bennett in Crikey.


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.


I lost everything to online gambling. A national self-exclusion register might save others

Anonymous Voices for Gambling Reform

The Guardian


I have been waiting for this day; waiting for almost five years for the federal government’s national gambling self-exclusion register, BetStop, to be open for business.


Treatment and support services for gambling harm

Carol Bennett, CEO

Pearls and Irritations – Public policy journal


For someone who is experiencing gambling harm, either due to their own gambling or someone else’s gambling, finding a quality service is often difficult.

People with lived experience regularly tell us they struggle to find independent and quality information about what is on offer and the likely outcomes of any referral.


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.


Labor must do the right thing by fully committing to a cashless gambling card

Rev Tim Costello

Hobart Mercury


Australia is approaching a tipping point on gambling reform. After decades of inaction, that has allowed Australian’s to be fleeced of $26 billion a year in gambling losses, there is now a chance of real reform. 

And while there are several fronts where the war on gambling is being fought across Australia, Tasmania is at the forefront of the battle.  


Gambling and tobacco a tale of two ‘poisons’. The lessons we must learn to tame ‘big gambling’

Rev Tim Costello

Pearls And Irritations


Gambling is normalised and celebrated which has led to the highest levels of gambling losses per capita in the world – 40 per cent higher for poker machines and 20 per cent higher for online gambling – well ahead of any other country.

I have not met a parent who is not horrified by the rampant use of vaping among our young people.


Albanese government federal budget must address gambling reform

Carol Bennett, AGR CEO

The Canberra Times


Gambling losses in Australia amount to a staggering $25 billion annually - losses that, per capita, are greater than anywhere else in the world and 40 per cent greater than the next biggest losing country.


On the gambling industry’s political gift-giving, the proof is in the pudding

Carol Bennett, AGR CEO

Croakey Health Media


As a society and as a health sector we were far too naïve, far too trusting and far too late in realising and then challenging the lies of big tobacco.

Tobacco executives repeatedly lied and buried their own research that showed how addictive and harmful their products are – all for the sake of making profits.

Thankfully today government regulations strictly limits tobacco availability and promotion to reduce the harm it causes our health, our lives and the wider economy. Of course the industry is still seeking to exploit any avenues it can in the quest for profit and vaping has become the new frontier with a new generation of young people the new target.

In The News


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

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.


Advocates welcome gambling credit ban, but question lotto exemption

The New Daily

Carol Bennett, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told The New Daily that Australians are the biggest online gamblers in the world.

“This is great legislation in the sense it addresses the need for a ban on credit, digital wallets and digital currencies,” she said.

“These are things that mean people are gambling with money they simply don’t have to lose.”


Pokies reforms: Clubs push for review of ‘dated’ self-exclusion programs

The Age

Alliance for Gambling Reform chief executive Carol Bennett said her organisation would welcome improvements.

She said a mishmash of different jurisdictions and gambling companies running their own programs had led to huge failures.

“There is a mismatch between the technology and some of these very outdated schemes that don’t really do what they were intended to do or have found to be in breach of the very purpose they were set up,” Bennett said.

“It really is an area that is very important to people who are harmed by gambling ... They need to feel confident in the system and, at the moment, it’s hard to say that.”


CEO Carol Bennett - BetStop

ABC Radio Sydney

Alliance CEO Carol Bennett speaks with James Valentine, on ABC Sydney Breakfast, welcoming the introduction of BetStop, how it works, and what more needs to be done from here. #BetStop #GamblingReform


Online gamble: new self-exclusion tool launched

ABC Listen

It's taken eight years of campaigning, but a national self-exclusion programme for people gambling too much online is up and running from today.

It's called BetStop and it's supposed to reduce the growing harm associated with online gambling.

But some groups are calling for more to be done.


Carol Bennett on Gold Coast Breakfast

ABC Gold Coast

Alliance CEO Carol Bennett comments on the legislation to be introduced by the Anthony Albanese Labor Government to Parliament today which include a ban on credit card payments and fines for companies who don’t enforce it. While these reforms are significant, we would like to see them include lotteries ABC Gold Coast


New analysis on link between gambling and suicide

ABC Listen

New research has shed light on the link between gambling and suicide, after analysis of Coroner's Court cases in Victoria.

Advocates for gambling reform say it supports anecdotal evidence of what they're seeing on the ground, and they're calling for urgent action from state and federal governments.


CEO Carol Bennett on signage laws in NSW

2GB Sydney

Alliance CEO Carol Bennett joined Bill Woods on 2GB Sydney to discuss the ‘new’ signage laws in NSW. “The Irony is that this was already enabled under the Gambling Act of 2001, so it’s a bit of nonsense to suggest it’s a new measure.”


The ACT needs to go all in on cashless gambling now

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.


Gambling reform advocate says ads are ‘grooming’ kids as Australian broadcasters lobby against total ban

The Guardian

Tim Costello has rejected claims from commercial broadcasters that a total ban on gambling ads could threaten their viability, arguing the true “existential crisis” is allowing “grooming of kids by these ads”.

The chief advocate of the alliance for gambling reform has urged Labor and the Coalition to back a total ban on gambling advertisements, acknowledging they are “very worried about taking on channels Seven, Nine and 10” but a bipartisanship push could ensure they “can’t be picked off” in the face of intense lobbying.


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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