March 2019 Gambling News! - Alliance for Gambling Reform

March 2019 Gambling News!

Gambling News: Geelong coup, NSW election, Coles divests, toxic Neds deal, Victorian RSL, Bar Sinclair column, Tasmanian update and much more

In this bumper March edition of Gambling News, we’re covering the advertising coup in Geelong, tomorrow’s NSW election, the fabulous Coles exit from pokies, a brickbat for the Brisbane Lions, a Victorian RSL update, Bar Sinclair’s lived experience perspective and Meg Webb’s pokies focused tilt at the Tasmanian upper house, plus plenty more. Enjoy.

Stephen Mayne
Editor, Gambling News

 

 

1. Geelong blazes the trail as Brisbane lets down the AFL

As the AFL season kicked off last night with an impressive win by the Richmond Tigers (pokies revenue $5.26m in 2017-18) against the Carlton Blues (pokies revenue $18.39m from 300 machines in 4 venues in 2017-18), you may have noticed quite a bit of gambling advertising on Seven and Fox Footy over the course of their broadcasts.

Throw in all that stadium signage (particularly Beteasy) promoting gambling tolerated by Richmond, Carlton, the AFL and the MCC/MCG and there was plenty of opportunity for citizens of the world’s most gambling harmed country to be reminded of this insidious industry whilst trying to enjoy the national sport.

But let’s not to be too negative, because there’s some seriously good news to be shared.

Geelong Football Club yesterday blazed the trail by announcing it had terminated all gambling advertising at its home ground this year - the first major club in Australia to take such a stand through its stadium advertising contractor.

The reaction was overwhelmingly positive on social media and you can hear an extract of an interview Geelong President Colin Carter did on ABC Melbourne at the beginning of this lengthy discussion about the issue with Deakin’s Samantha Thomas on ABC  Perth yesterday morning.

Contrasting with the morale boosting move by Geelong was a dreadful decision by the Brisbane Lions to ink a jumper sponsorship deal with Neds, arguably the dodgiest of the corporate bookmakers operating in the Australia market.

We let fly in this media release and you can listen to Tim Costello go in with both barrels on ABC Brisbane’s breakfast program on Tuesday morning. Intriguingly, the Lions have taken down the embarrassing media release trumpeting the deal which said how pleased the Lions were with the deal whilst failing to say Neds is a gambling company. Could a backflip be in the offing?

In a remarkable piece of timing, the Neds sponsorship was announced just two days before Brisbane Lions player Allen Christensen became the latest AFL player to disclose his personal battles with a gambling addiction.

This means we have a recovering gambling addict running around with the Neds brand on his back when no other AFL club is allowing their playing strip to be used for promotion of gambling this season.

Both the Geelong move and the action in Brisbane were wrapped up in a strong story on Network Ten’s The Project last night, starting 44 minutes into the program which was headlined by the Waleed Aly interview with Scott Morrison.

2. Counting down to the NSW election

First up, thanks to everyone for their support in the NSW election campaign, which could yet still turn into a political opportunity for meaningful pokies reform.

We were delighted to get more than 140 letters sent to Labor leader Michael Daley and Shadow Gambling Minister John Graham from our NSW army responding to this action on Monday urging them not to sign any pokies agreements with either Clubs NSW or the AHA.

And this follow up action on Wednesday generated plenty of calls to John Graham’s office urging NSW Labor to get bold on gambling reform in the final days of the campaign. Alas, so far we’ve heard nothing from Labor on this.

Our NSW policy platform focuses on $1 maximum bets and abolishing loyalty schemes.

Despite Michael Daley’s poor last few days, there is still a strong chance of a hung Parliament, and such a scenario remains the best hope for gambling reform.

Just like when Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie leveraged up the hung Federal parliament in 2010 to secure Labor’s commitment for mandatory pre-commitment, opportunity abounds in Macquarie Street nine years later.

The ACT is the most recent example of a Greens-Labor minority government delivering pokies reform after the confidence agreement required a 20% cut in pokies entitlements, which has now finally been delivered in recent weeks, as was noted in the February edition of Gambling News.

Despite being the world’s most gambling-harmed jurisdiction, pokies have barely rated a mention during the NSW campaign, largely because the two major parties both don’t want to upset the powerful pubs and clubs, which traditionally are large bipartisan donors and have intimidated politicians on all sides, not unlike what the NRA does in America.

However, the Greens released this comprehensive pokies reform package to dramatically tackle gambling harm last week which clearly indicates reform will be coming if there is a Labor minority government with the Greens holding the balance of power, which is still a reasonable prospect.

The highlights of the commendable Greens policy includes:

  • Phasing out pokies from NSW pubs in 5 years and clubs in 10 years
  • Establishing an Independent Special Commission of Inquiry into gambling industry political influence
  • Cutting the maximum bet from $10 to $1
  • Banning gambling advertising on public transport and through sport
  • Banning political donations by the gambling industry  

This is clearly worrying the Australian Hotels Association (largest member: the Woolworths-controlled ALH Group) which was exposed for under-taking aggressive push polling against the NSW Greens by The Sydney Morning Herald and then only subsequently registered as a third party campaigner on March 8.

Under-hand political tactics have long been a feature of the pokies industry and we’ll be hearing more about the political influencing efforts of the AHA  in the coming days, not just in NSW.

In terms of major party gambling promises, the NSW ALP hasn’t signed the notorious MOU with Clubs NSW that Premier Gladys Berejiklian did, but it still thought nothing about having its main election fundraising dinner and separate campaign launch at the Revesby Workers Club. RWC is an enormous pokies den which took $51 million from pokies gamblers last year and is chaired by former Federal Labor MP Darryl Melham, who has been on the board for 38 years.

Then again, the NSW Liberals were just as bad given their campaign launch was at the Penrith Panthers, which is owned by the Panthers Group, an enormous chain of pokies venues that generated $65 million from pokies gamblers in 2016-17. (see p34 of annual report)

The Alliance is calling for commitments from all parties and candidates to back the introduction of $1 maximum bets on pokies, ban loyalty programs, cut machine numbers, reduce trading hours and give more power to councils and local communities to decide where machines are located.

As far as The Alliance knows, apart from The Greens, only Sustainable Australia has a published gambling policy, with, at state level, support for $1 maximum bets, a cap on numbers before phasing out pubs and clubs pokies and proper and extensive community consultation before any new casino licences are issued. At the Federal level, they call for strong and extensive bans on sports betting advertising.

Keep Sydney Open’s very short policy revolves around ending exemptions for the casino. They do not want to have pokies installed in the casino, and have an aspirational statement that tax revenue might be used in an unspecified way to assist clubs moving to a new business model, as well as (as currently occurs) being spent on gambling counselling services. No mention is made of measures to address the huge number of poker machines in hotels in the City of Sydney (3139 EGMs taking $287m in profits in FY2018), let alone elsewhere in the metropolitan area.

It is quite scandalous that more than $6.5 billion was lost by gamblers on NSW poker machines in 2018 (including The Star casino) so the situation can’t possibly get any worse.

For example, the two worst hit council areas are Canterbury-Bankstown and Fairfield in Western Sydney, so let’s finish this item with some truly shocking statistics.

In 2017-18, Fairfield received $109.2 million in rates revenue from its community, but in the same year pokies losses jumped from $484 million to a record $509 million, some 4.66 times what the community gave their local council in rates.

Canterbury-Bankstown is a bigger council with 2017-18 rates revenue of $219 million, but that was still dwarfed by the annual pokies losses which hit a record $556 million in 2017-18, some 2.54 times the council’s rates revenue and the most of any council area in Australia, even exceeding City of Sydney and City of Brisbane.

Sadly, the Labor mayor of Canterbury Bankstown, Cr Khal Asfour, sits on the board of a pokies club, demonstrating once again how entangled the gambling industry is with organised political institutions in NSW.

3. Coles quits the pokies, will Woolworths be next?

In the most significant institutional pokies divestment we’ve seen yet in Australia, Coles finalised its exit deal with private equity giant KKR last month, cranking up the pressure on Woolworths to do likewise.

Check out both the official Coles announcement, along with our statement from Tim Costello and this news piece  in The Guardian on 5 March.

The surprisingly low price of just $200 million, sparking a $20 million book value loss for Coles, reflects how deeply toxic the pokies industry has become. Investors just don’t want the exposure to an industry facing mounting regulatory threats down the road and ongoing questions about its social licence to operate.

Indeed, Melbourne’s Zagames family has failed to find a buyer for its chain of six venues which have been on the market for almost a year, as was noted by The Age. Who’d want to buy it? This smells just like coal and the stranded asset theory in the climate change debate.

Even the former national and Victorian president of the AHA, Peter Burnett, has decided to leave the industry, selling his Geelong pokies venue, the Lord of the Isles, earlier this month. For an insight into cosy media relationships, political connections and ties with major sporting codes, just listen to this exit interview Peter Burnett did with the 3AW breakfast program.

Meanwhile, Woolworths and the NSW pokies industry are continuing to face significant scrutiny from some trail-blazing journalism coming out of the ABC and The Sydney Morning Herald, as was noted in the February edition of Gambling News.

On March 14 The Australian reported that “debate is raging in the Woolworths boardroom over plans for its $3.5 billion hotel and liquor operations ALH Group.”

Interestingly, ALH has also launched a charm offensive with some Victorian councils which are members of The Alliance for Gambling Reform.

ALH CEO Bruce Mathieson junior and long-time lobbyist and PR chief David Curry have been writing to mayors seeking meetings and discussions about their pokies empire.

Whilst the billionaire Mathieson family are clearly firmly committed to aggressively running their pokies empire to extract maximum profits, the question remains whether Woolworths can tolerate being associated with the ongoing harm to its reputation, particularly now that Coles has fully divested.

Don’t be surprised if there’s an announcement before the November AGM, where Woolworths is likely to face more external candidates for the board if they remain committed to its toxic pokies business.

4. Chance for a strengthened venue code of conduct in Victoria

In Victoria, pokies venues must abide by a Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct which sets minimum standards they should comply with to reduce harm. The present code is too weak but reviewing it was a Labor election commitment and we believe the Minister is undertaking this review now.

Last year we saw media reports of atrocious behaviour at venues in NSW and Queensland run by the Woolworths-controlled ALH Group, which is the largest pokies operator in Victoria.  This included staff spying on patrons, collecting their personal information and plying them with free drinks in a cynical approach to keep them gambling longer and maximising losses.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform believes the Victorian Government must strengthen the Code so that:

  • All pokies venue staff are prohibited from engaging in activities aimed at increasing the amount of money people lose.

  • All venue staff be required to monitor people gambling to identify signs a person is being harmed by gambling. Further, venue staff should be required to intervene and offer assistance to people displaying signs they are being harmed by their gambling, as is already the case under laws in New Zealand and Switzerland. This should include asking someone who has displayed significant signs of gambling harm to leave a venue and not come back for at least 24 hours.

  • Introduce mandatory breaks and maximum daily limits on gambling time.

  • The Code should also forbid the provision of free drinks (excluding water) to gamblers and instead encourage them to take a break by going to other parts of the venue for food and drink.
  • The Code should prohibit the giving of gifts, inducements or any other item of value to people who are gambling.

  • The Code should require pokie venues to assist in any research around reducing gambling related harm that has been approved by the Victorian Government.

Will the Minister come through with a strengthened code of conduct that protects patrons and holds dodgy venues to account? Watch this space…

5. Time to scrutinise the RSL’s unholy alliance with the pokies industry

Speaking of getting out of gambling, the February edition of Gambling News provided a summary of the fascinating campaign for pokies divestment driven by a group of younger veterans which is unfolding within the Victorian RSL.

It is definitely worth following the Twitter handle @rslyou for updates on the reform push which is currently focusing on looking at the financial statements of the various Victorian RSLs sub-branches. These are being progressively released ahead of the April-May AGM season for Victorian RSLs and show that sod-all pokies money is actually spent on veterans welfare.  This will be followed by the July 4 Victorian RSL state congress, where the push for board and constitutional change, along with a full divestment from the pokies, will come to a head.

There are around 250 RSL sub-branches in Victoria but only 52 have pokies, generating more than $200 million a year in losses.

This makes the RSL the second largest Victorian pokies operator after Woolworths/ALH, both of which have received an exemption from the 840 cap on poker machines which applies to all other chains of clubs, be they from the racing industry or big pokies-focused AFL clubs such as Hawthorn and Carlton.

The Victorian RSL used to be the voice of veterans but these days they seem to have lost their way, which might explain why so many alternative veterans groups have popped up such as Soldier On.

The Victorian branch is run out of ANZAC House at 4 Collins Street and there is increasing anger about the tiny amount of pokies profits which are directed to veteran welfare, particularly at a time when veterans are struggling to be allocated beds at the Repatriation Hospital in Heidelberg. Unlike in the Bruce Ruxton days, the RSL remains publically mute on the issue, seemingly too busy focusing on its poorly run and financially struggling pokies business.

Even worse, veteran suicide rates remain disturbingly high, yet the RSL is in a business which is infamous for its contribution to suicide, as this 2013 Herald Sun piece explains.

Meanwhile, the long-serving RSL Victoria chief operating officer Brian Cairns is not himself a veteran, but instead a veteran of the pokies industry. He started out in the pokies space in the 1990s and at the age of 24 was put in charge of running the Rosebud RSL, which, almost two decades later, drained $5 million from gamblers through its 75 pokies in 2017-18.

Internal and external critics believe Cairns has way too much power, appointing the general managers of RSL pokie dens and persuading various Presidents and boards to keep applying for more machines, despite the poor financial returns and controversy this generates.

Perversely, the system in Victoria is set up so that the more pokies licences and gambling revenue an RSL sub-branch has, the more the President of that branch gets paid, whereas most of the circa 200 pokies-free RSL sub-branches are run by volunteer committees.

This is similar to the model in NSW where there is an enormous gambling gravy train for an army of foot soldiers on club boards who keep delivering politically for the pokies industry. Aristocrat Leisure is very thankful for the work of these foot soldiers, as it allowed them to deliver an Australian pokies profit of $207 million on machine sales of $455 million in 2018. You can see who is making money out of the pokies, because it certainly isn’t the Victorian RSL and the veterans they are meant to represent.

The Victorian RSL has an aging all-male board which increasingly looks out of touch with younger veterans. They aren’t even profiled on the RSL Victoria website where there also doesn’t appear to be a copy of the latest annual report or accounts available. The transparency is very poor.

That said,  there are some pokies free RSL branches doing great work with veterans. For instance, congratulations to the Creswick RSL which, as the Hepburn Advocate notes in this recent report, has just celebrated its centenary having never dived into the sewer of running poker machines. Long may this continue.

6. My son was addicted to poker machines

The Alliance believes in giving voice to the lived experience perspective when it comes to gambling harm. Below is a piece by Bar Sinclair, a Sydney grandmother whose son suffered a long addiction to pokies. Bar reflects on her journey, which included attending the recent Aristocrat Leisure AGM in Sydney, which we covered in the last edition of Gambling News.

My son was addicted to the pokies. It lasted almost 20 years, until about two years ago. He would often gamble away his whole pay cheque. As a migrant from the UK and Canada, who came to Australia in 1995, I never realised Sydney was the pokies capital of the world, nor the harm the industry could cause, including to my own family. There are no words to describe the utter desolation of the gambler and the heartache felt by the family when seeing the darkness, despair, the anger, fear, and the suicidal thoughts.

Evidence of the harm is well documented and yet the manufacturers of poker machines go blithely on, producing more machines, making hundreds of millions, putting profits before people, denying the evidence that pokies are rigged to win and that they are designed to addict. They continue to produce more enticing games. A new one is cutely called “Toy Story”, not hard to guess what age group THAT is aimed at, as the industry grooms the next generation of addicts.

Last month I attended the AGM of pokie manufacturer Aristocrat in Sydney. The directors were asked if they had ever met and talked to a person who is addicted to their products.  None of them could answer in the affirmative. (Watch this video of the chairman squirming when put on the spot). There was a very high wall put up between attendees at the AGM urging for gambling reforms and the board, who were unyielding in their defence of their industry. They are seemingly only accountable to their shareholders, not those harmed by their addictive products.

Rather than just paying lip service about their concerns for “problem gamblers”, why aren’t these directors doing something about it? There are reforms they could begin to implement tomorrow but have fought for years, such as $1 maximum bets which would assist in harm minimisation for the many tens of thousands of people in NSW adversely affected by a pokies addiction. I would encourage the Aristocrat directors to seek out organisations such as AA, Lifeline & the Salvos to hear first hand how pokies can ruin lives; these are the organizations that pick up the pieces of ruined families and lives after thousands have been gambled on poker machines.

As any parent who has a child with addictions knows, there is a feeling of despair and helplessness in the face of their child’s pain, not knowing how to help.

An argument often made as to the benefits of poker machines is the amount of money they generate for community donations. But when these profits are linked to mortgage stress, family violence, crime and family breakdown they can hardly be said to be helping the community.

Pokies have been described, amongst other things, as devious, harmful to health and toxic. They make people feel revolting, paranoid, suicidal, shameful, guilty and worthless.  These are hardly attributes recommended for healthy living and hardly an industry that politicians should be supporting!

Last year there were several reports of employees working in hotels owned by Woolworths allegedly giving free alcoholic drinks to regular gamblers in order to keep them on the machines longer. What sort of an industry causes people to act in such an unethical way?

There is a rising tide of voices speaking out against poker machines and the harm they can cause to individuals, families and communities and therefore, to Australia. The number of  machines in almost every pub and club is impossible to ignore. In NSW alone there are approximately 92,000 machines, unlike Western Australia where there are none at all in pubs or clubs.  It is this prevalence and availability that is a major factor in the harm caused by pokies in this state, where losses are now more than $6 billion a year.

There is hope. There are pubs and clubs, such as The Beach Hotel in Byron Bay, which have become “Proudly Pokies Free”. Several AFL football clubs are now pokie free, and Coles has announced it is selling its hotels and therefore its pokies.

It is time for serious gambling reform. Residents and councils currently have no say in where pokies are located in their community. This needs to change. Pubs and clubs need to find ways of going back to doing business without the income from poker machines, which really should only be available in casinos, eventually.  The maximum bet in NSW is still $10 – the highest in Australia. $1 maximum bets, as recommended twice by the Productivity Commission, needs to become law.  Loyalty programs, which are getting increasingly sophisticated, need to be made illegal.

Let’s change the conversation from “problem gamblers” to “problem industry” so that other parents won’t suffer the despair and pain that pokies have deluged on my family.

* Bar Sinclair is a Sydney grandmother who volunteers with The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s “Champions For Change” program. Please email the Champions for Change Community Builder, Pepi Belfort pepi@agr.org.au to register your interest in the program or call 0488 151 645 for more information.

7. Tasmanian update: can Meg Webb become the next anti-pokies politician

After the scandal of last year’s pokies-dominated Tasmanian election lingers, the fallout continues with ongoing anger about the way the gambling industry bank-rolled the Liberal victory and contributed a third party spending effort against Labor and the Greens unlike anything seen before in an Australian political contest.

When the political donations figures came out on February 1, The Alliance published this comprehensive media statement and the last edition of Gambling News also covered the extraordinary disclosures about Tasmanian gambling industry influence pedalling.

Unfortunately, all the declared donations tell us nothing about the third party spending by the industry and the significant amount of smaller gambling industry donations which fell below the disclosure threshold. For instance, the Tasmanian Liberals only revealed $925,159 or 22.2% of their total revenues of $4.17 million in 2017-18.

Last month, SA Best upper house MP Connie Bonaros gave this cracking 9 minute speech in the South Australian Parliament endorsing The Alliance’s call for a complete ban on gambling donations. This can’t happen quickly enough.

Like Connie Bonaros, Tasmanian Meg Webb is another emerging politician who is currently offering herself for election in the Tasmanian upper house on a platform focused heavily on gambling reform.

Meg was central to the community campaign in Tasmania which persuaded Rebecca White and the Labor Party to adopt a policy of removing pokies from all pubs and clubs at last year’s state election.

She had over 100 supporters at her campaign launch at Pippa Dickson’s fabulous pokies free bar, The Salty Dog, in Hobart on Sunday. Read about the campaign and the launch here or visit Meg’s campaign web page.

Tim Costello attended the launch and noted that Meg is a very special candidate and Tasmania remains nationally important in the fight to tackle the epidemic of gambling losses in Australia and the battle for reform in Tasmania is not over yet.

Tasmania matters because this was the first time a major party had adopted a policy to remove all pokies from pubs and clubs.

Labor has historically been the most gambling captured party in Tasmania – they brought us the Wrestpoint casino, they brought us the Betfair licence, they gave Federal Group a notorious state-wide pokies monopoly.

Rebecca White and Labor only committed to its bold removal policy after all the collaborative work done by the community, with Meg Webb very much front and centre, over the past three years, highlighting the damage done by pokies.

Labor got the wobbles after the election but there are many more rounds to play out in this saga, as Meg and Tim noted on Sunday when they called on the Hodgman Government to come clean about the tax rate it has planned for the Federal Group’s remaining pokies in its two Tasmanian casinos.

We still haven’t seen the legislation that will hand pokies licences from the monopolist Farrell family’s Federal Group to individual venues, something the pubs have been wanting for years.

Given its sordid history of gambling deals, in Tasmania we need more transparency and less secret deals. For instance, what will the tax rate be on Federal Group’s remaining pokies at their two casinos? They want to only pay 10% when the Liberals have proposed the pubs pay 38%. This should be disclosed before the upper house election on May 3, although the Liberals this week announced the legislation wouldn’t be introduced until next year and Federal Group is already whinging that its monopoly should end in 2024, not 2023 as proposed by the Liberals.

This legislation giving licences directly to the pubs is no certainty to get through Parliament and this is why the outcome of the upcoming 2019 upper house elections in May is so pivotal. Three of the 15 spots are up for grab in the house which traditionally is more independent than any other in Australia. For more on how the Tasmanian upper house works, check out this explanation.

In terms of fighting the gambling industry, it would be a significant boost to have Meg Webb as as an independent MP in the Tasmanian upper house.

She has worked in the Tassie community sector since 2001 and had a range of roles with the likes of The Salvation Army, Hobart City Mission, Calvary Health Care, the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS) and Anglicare Tasmania.

It was her stint as Manager of Anglicare's Social Action and Research Centre (SARC) when she really hit her straps on many issues, but particularly the pokies. She formed a powerful combination working with James Boyce, whose wonderful 2017 book “Losing Streak: how Tasmania was gamed by the Gambling industry”, was very influential on policy makers. Meg and her team at SARC produced many campaign resources, including this useful pokies fact sheet.

Meg helped put together The Community Voice for Pokies Reform in Tasmania which grew into a powerful coalition of 60 organisations, which made submissions and gave evidence before the Parliamentary Committee in 2016-17.  In her role at Anglicare, she commissioned independent economic modelling of the impact of taking pokies out of Tasmanian pubs and clubs, which was pivotal in influencing the Labor party decision.

And, in a personal side project ahead of last year's state election, Meg worked with creative friends to make a series of humorous videos and online content depicting 'Tassie' breaking up with her abusive partner, “Pokie”.

As you can see, she’s got the creativity of a Nick Xenophon and would be highly impactful if elected for a 6 year term in the Tasmanian upper house. Let’s hope it happens.

Finally on the Tasmanian issues,  here are links to some of the media coverage on this year’s donations data deluge which focused on Tasmania:

Wilkie slams mind-blowing gambling campaigning in Tasmania
The Australian, 1 February, 2019

Who were the biggest funders of Tasmania's pro-gambling campaign?
ABC, 1 February, 2019

Tasmanian gambling takeover highlight needs for campaign finance reform
The Conversation, 1 February, 2019

Huge gambling donations revealed in Tasmania
The Advocate, 1 February, 2019

Comprehensive wrap of Tasmanian pokies donations situation
ABC, 1 February, 2019

8. Around the grounds of gambling media coverage

There has been plenty of lively material to add to our web page linking to interesting media on gambling issues from around the world. Here are a few of the items we recommend you sample.

Brisbane Lions player opens up about gambling addiction
Brisbane Times, 21 March, 2019

Greedy Federal Group complains about terms of pokies exit in Tasmania
The Mercury, 21 March, 2019

Geelong blazes the trail as stadium signage now gambling free
The Age, 20 March, 2019

Tim Costello interview about Brisbane Lions and dodgy Neds
ABC Brisbane, 19 March, 2019

Ronnie Cowan MP on the sins of the gambling industry
Politics Home, 19 March, 2019

Neds set to sponsor Brisbane Lions
The Age, 17 March, 2019

Revesby Workers Club tries to justify evicting Nick O'Malley from Labor fundraiser
Sunday Telegraph, 17 March, 2019

Tiny take up of Victoria's Yourplay pre-commitment system
Herald Sun, 16 March, 2019

20% of gamblers attempt suicide
Think Big, 15 March, 2019

AHA accused of push polling against NSW Greens
Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March, 2019

Cosy interview with Peter Burnett as he sells Geelong pokies pub
3AW, 13 March, 2019

Harmed gamblers 15 times more likely to suicide
The Guardian, 13 March, 2019

Another tragic UK suicide thanks to the gambling industry
BBC, 11 March, 2019

Ladbrokes bosses in shock share sale, stock tumbled 12%
Irish Examiner, 8 March, 2019

Why loot boxes should be classified as gambling
BBC, 7 March, 2019

Tabcorp trading boss quits after refusing to surrender phone to stewards
SMH, 6 March, 2019

Melbourne Victory forced to change kit after breaching gambling rules
Stuff, 6 March, 2019

Statements from NAB, Sportsbet, Woolies etc to 7.30 re Sportsbet scandals
ABC online, 6 March, 2019

The Sportsbet files - inside a $500m marketing deluge
ABC TV's 7.30, 5 March, 2019

Remarkable Sportsbet investigation by 7.30 team
ABC online, 5 March, 2019

Interview with Camberwell RSL President Dave Petersen
ABC Melbourne, 5 March, 2019

Why would Queensland go for a second Gold Coast casino?
ABC online, 5 March, 2019

Coles punts pubs and pokies in deal with KKR
Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March, 2019

Young veterans campaign for Victorian RSL to quit the pokies
The Age, 5 March, 2019

UK Labour promises tough gambling crackdown
BBC, 28 February, 2019

Eliza Barr slams pokies deluge in Fairfield
Daily Telegraph, 28 February, 2019

Clubs NSW fails in Press Council action against SMH
SMH, 25 February, 2019

9. Margaret Quixley and Ashley Sutherland join The Alliance

We’re delighted to announce The Alliance is boosting its campaigning capacity with two important new appointments.

Margaret Quixley started this week as our new campaigns director and can be reached on Margaret@agr.org.au. She has has over ten years experience in developing and delivering campaigns, including with the 'Places you love' alliance and a stint organising on marginal Texan electorates in the US midterms.

She led BirdLife Australia’s successful Act for Birds campaign which mobilised over 8,000 people to contact their elected representative and helped trigger a Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis. This involved organising hundreds of people to attend national events, training online community activists, fundraising, media and conceiving then delivering campaign strategies.

She'll be full time with the Alliance, giving us capacity to scale up the push for long overdue reform in the sports gambling space, in addition to our prime focus on poker machines.

On April 5 we will also be joined by Ashley Sutherland to work primarily on our Victorian campaign. Ashley has diverse experience in campaigns, politics and public health issues. She co-founded the ground-breaking 'Be a better human’ initiative to tackle systemic sexual assault on campus, now run in 11 Universities. She has held leadership positions such as the President of the Flinders Uni Student Association, Director on the University Council and Youth Ambassador for Headspace.

Ashley has worked for local government and been an adviser to a State MP in South Australia, plus worked on several election campaigns.

Please welcome Margaret and Ashley to the Alliance as we push on to tackle long overdue gambling reform in Australia.

Finally in this bumper March edition of Gambling News, if you’d like to become a financial supporter of The Alliance as we strive to reduce world record levels of gambling harm in Australia, just click here.

Until next time, stay safe.

Do ya best,
Stephen Mayne
Editor of Gambling News
Feedback to stephen@agr.org.au,  0412 106 241 or DM tweet to @maynereport