3 August, 2021
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The Alliance for Gambling Reform has applauded moves to establish a new, fit-for-purpose regulator for the gambling industry in Victoria.
The new Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) is a body that has been desperately needed in the state for many years, said Alliance Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello.
“As Minister Horne herself noted in her media conference announcing this new regulator, the amalgamation of gambling and liquor under one umbrella has been a failed experiment,” he said.
“Just today we’ve heard Crown’s own lawyer tell the Royal Commission that they ‘expected or at least hoped that the regulator wouldn’t notice’ when they deliberately dodged their taxes. That says it all about how poorly the current regulator was viewed, and how little effective authority it had.
“Gambling harm is too big of an issue in Victoria for the gambling industry to be overseen by a toothless tiger. I applaud the Victorian Government for stepping up and finally taking seriously the need to prevent and reduce gambling harm.
“Strict, thorough oversight is the only way to ensure anything is done to reduce gambling harm. The gambling industry has shown time and again they cannot be trusted to do the right thing.”
Rev Costello said it wasn’t just Crown Casino that needed to be watched closely.
“With poker machines seemingly available everywhere, we are dealing with hundreds of mini casinos in our suburbs and towns, with some areas such as Brimbank having gambling available 24/7 because of regulatory loopholes being exploited by the gambling industry,” Rev Costello said.
“We hope that this new body will look closely at these loopholes and others, and bring them to the attention of the government for regulatory and legislative action to be taken.
“Poker machines are dangerous, they are deliberately designed to be addictive and the businesses that operate them need to be much more closely monitored to ensure they are not exploiting people.
“This is more important than ever with data showing gambling is spiking due to the pandemic. People are stressed and they are seeking false hope in gambling, and even self-soothing.”
Anna Bardsley lost 10 years of her life gambling at Crown and other venues and knows firsthand how little the gambling industry cares for people experiencing gambling harm.
“The people experiencing the worst gambling harm are the industry’s best customers. The industry has no incentive to help these people -- they want to exploit them for profit,” Ms Bardsley said.
“They fight hard against any changes that may reduce gambling harm in fear of losing some money. Well, it’s time people came first and I hope this new body watches them all like hawks.
“Too many times I was in front of a poker machine in a vulnerable state for hours on end, losing more than I could afford to because those machines were doing what they were designed to do -- lulling me into a meditative state so I wasn’t conscious of what I was losing. No one ever checked up on me.
“Just look at Crown. They considered allowing a person to gamble for 18 hours straight ‘responsible gambling’. What a joke! And there were submissions to the Crown Royal Commission from people who had been there gambling for days on end. That’s exploitation. That’s predatory behaviour.
“The gambling industry is proffering a dangerous, addictive product and should never have been allowed to run with the abandon it has for decades. I hope this new body stops them in their tracks.”
Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or [email protected]
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