18 September 2019
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has reiterated its calls for a Royal Commission into gambling in Victoria after the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s (VCGLR) referral to IBAC.
Alliance spokesman, the Rev Tim Costello, says there was already a need for a Royal Commission after the revelations about Crown Casino in July, and these latest allegations demonstrated the lack of effective regulation and oversight by the VCGLR.
“The fact is that between the Crown revelations and these latest allegations, it is impossible to have any faith in the VCGLR doing its job as a watchdog when it comes to gambling in Victoria,” Rev Costello said.
“Clearly there are some good people working at the VCGLR who are so frustrated by the lack of oversight of gambling in Victoria that they have felt the need to blow the whistle and speak up about what they’re seeing. We congratulate them for coming forward to demand independent investigation.
“The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) may not have the legislative teeth to fully investigate, as it admitted in 2014.For this reason, the Alliance calls for a Royal Commission to get to the bottom of this.
“These brave whistleblowers deserve the right to be heard in a Royal Commission into gambling. Clearly the gambling industry has strong influence in Victoria, at many levels, and only a Royal Commission has the necessary clout to investigate the many issues we currently face. The community has a right to know.”
Rev Costello said these latest allegations about gambling within AFL circles also made it imperative for the league to divorce itself of connections to gambling.
“It’s not good enough for the AFL to say if they weren’t taking gambling money someone else would. The fact is the league is in a unique position of influence in Victoria to take the lead on addressing this huge issue,” Rev Costello said.
“There have been a number of incidents of players gambling on their own games, and acknowledgement of players who are suffering terrible gambling harm. How can this be in a game that is marketed as being family-friendly?
“There are some AFL clubs literally profiting off misery by owning poker machine venues. It’s disgraceful. Hawthorn is the worst club when it comes to this. It sickens me to see Jeff Kennett championing mental health when his club made more than $25 million from its poker machine venues in the past year alone.”
Rev Costello said the connection between mental ill-health and gambling was well established and it was time this was taken seriously.
“Gambling harm is a public health issue and needs to be addressed as such,” Rev Costello said. “We’ve had and are in the middle of Royal Commissions into family violence and mental health, both important issues that deserved such a high level of scrutiny.
“If Premier Daniel Andrews was serious about mental ill-health and family violence he would recognise that gambling harm is intertwined in both these issues, and he would order a Royal Commission into gambling as a priority.
Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe: [email protected] or 0491 209 436