Alliance slams proposal for 1000 new pokies at Star; appalled by timing in middle of COVID - Alliance for Gambling Reform

Alliance slams proposal for 1000 new pokies at Star; appalled by timing in middle of COVID

13 August, 2021

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The Alliance for Gambling Reform has slammed a proposal for 1000 new poker machines at Sydney’s Star casino, saying the NSW Government should not be even considering the idea right now.

Alliance Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said the NSW Government should be focused on dealing with the COVID crisis instead of having Cabinet spending any time helping Star Casino boost its profits.

“Sydney is in a crisis right now unlike it has ever faced before, and yet the gambling industry is clearly still getting meetings and influencing the government towards deals in its favour,” Rev Costello said.

“It’s extraordinary stuff. How on earth is further boosting Star’s profits getting any attention from the NSW Government right now? They’re already in one public health crisis with the coronavirus, surely they don’t want to exacerbate another public health problem in gambling harm right now?

“The incredible arrogance needed to be asking for Cabinet time to be spent even considering this right now is staggering, but that shows you how confident and connected the gambling industry is in NSW. I question the judgement of whoever in Cabinet thought this was a good idea to spend vital Cabinet time discussing right now.

“The Crown Royal Commissions have shown us how dangerous it is to let the gambling industry have such close ties to our governments and ministers. And that’s not even considering that there are serious reforms underway into casinos as a result of the NSW Bergin Inquiry and the Crown Royal Commissions. Star is clearly trying to sneakily almost double its poker machine numbers before there is further much-needed oversight of casinos brought in.”

Rev Costello said if Cabinet was looking at anything related to gambling it should be to significantly reduce gambling harm in NSW, arguably the state most impacted by gambling harm anywhere.

“As Treasurer Dominic Perrottet recently noted, poker machines are ‘our nation’s blight’. NSW should never have allowed itself to be put in a position where it has become so reliant on gambling taxes, and thus on people being harmed significantly for those taxes to come through,” Rev Costello said.

“This is the state with the highest number of poker machines in the world, outside of Nevada and its Las Vegas. That’s a staggering statistic. The NSW Government should be looking at ways to actively reduce the number of machines in the state, not pandering to the gambling industry.

“As this COVID crisis worsens in NSW, the government should be seeking to rebuild communities and local economies. Gambling is a net drain on our communities, both economically and from the inevitable fallouts from gambling harm. Helping the industry increase profits right now is absurd and completely against the best interests of the people of NSW.”

Anna Bardsley lost 10 years of her life to gambling. She knows firsthand how little the gambling industry cares for the community or people experiencing gambling harm.

“I should be shocked to hear that the gambling industry is taking up valuable government time right now pitching proposals to them so they can make even more money, but the reality is that I’m not shocked because this is just their typical greed, ignorance and arrogance,” Ms Bardsley said.

“This is a predatory industry that views people as dollar signs and profits, not human beings who have families to feed and lives to lead. They know the people experiencing the worst gambling harm are their best customers. They want to exploit them, not help them.

“I know too many people who have been left devastated by the impact of poker machines. We should be supporting people right now, not helping the gambling industry stripmine our communities.”

Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or [email protected]
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