December 2019 Gambling News! - Alliance for Gambling Reform

December 2019 Gambling News!

Inside Gambling Reform

Message from the Executive Director
National gambling figures just shy of $25 billion
Pokies Update - Victoria
Taking a stand against gambling harm
Connecting Champions for Change and decision-makers
On the horizon in Victoria…
Pokies Update - NSW
Building community
Reform whispers in NSW parliament
On the horizon in NSW...
Sports Gambling
Australians better protected 
On the horizon for sports gambling…
Champions for Change
Advocates making things happen
Leadership Councils
Councils mark Gambling Harm Awareness Week in Victoria
Pokies applications
On the horizon for councils...

Inside Gambling Reform

Welcome to the new Alliance for Gambling Reform newsletter.

We’ll be using this newsletter to keep you up-to-date with what’s happening with our work to reduce harm via gambling reform.

Message from the Executive Director

The past few months have been extraordinary with quantum leaps in some areas. We intend on capitalising on these shifts in the new year, with much on our agenda.

Our Communications Director Rebecca Thorpe has been doing an amazing job delivering impactful media coverage you can dive into here.

She's also introduced this Newsletter format that covers some of our recent highlights and what is on the horizon for us.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and safe festive season.

Cheers, Tony 
Executive Director


National gambling figures just shy of $25 billion

An astounding $24.887 billion was lost by Australians gambling in the year 2017-2018, data released earlier this month shows. There is little doubt that the next national data drop will exceed $25 billion. The enormity of the task ahead of us is daunting, but we are a dedicated bunch, especially with your support. See our media release here.

Donate to us to achieve gambling reform

As you will see below, we have a tremendous workload ahead of us in 2020. A tax-deductible donation will help us achieve our goals. Use our secure donation form here

 

Pokies Update - Victoria

Taking a stand against gambling harm

In October, the Alliance and our supporters, including representatives from the VLGA, Uniting Church, and Darebin, Hobsons Bay, Kingston and Moreland councils, stood on the steps of Parliament House to highlight gambling harm and its links to mental ill-health. People with lived experience of gambling harm called on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and his government to treat gambling harm as the public health issue it so clearly is. Watch this video for highlights.

Connecting Champions for Change and decision-makers

The most important part of our recent advocacy work has been connecting elected members of parliament with people in their electorate who have lived experience of gambling harm. Statistics only go so far in convincing someone of an issue, but we know that the human element of storytelling is what is most powerful in convincing someone to act. Alliance staff have been working with those advocates who have been through the Champions for Change program to advocate directly to MPs about gambling harm as a public health issue. 

On the horizon in Victoria…

In 2020 we’ll be working to protect the 50/50 split between club and hotel machine entitlements to ensure the number of hotel entitlements does not increase. This is important because hotel machines create more harm in the community. We’ll also be advocating for the 600+ poker machine entitlements that are not currently in use to be extinguished. We’ll continue advocating to MPs across the political spectrum, and working with our allies within the public health sector, to address the connection between gambling harm and other health issues in Victoria. 

 

Pokies Update - NSW

Building community

We’ve been working in Fairfield and Blacktown council areas to support emerging networks of local organisations in coming together to address harm from gambling in their communities. In Fairfield we helped coordinate a successful coffee cart and gambling help stalls in Cabramatta and Fairfield. With multi-lingual volunteers from several organisations, we gave out 120 free coffees, provided gambling counselling and help information to around 70 people, and even helped one Assyrian man make an appointment with the Multicultural Problem Gambling Service, because seeing us helped him realise he needed help. Here’s our video if you missed it at the time.

Reform whispers in NSW parliament

In October the NSW Upper House supported a motion to call on the government to rename Responsible Gambling Week to Gambling Harm Awareness Week. The Minister for Gambling has yet to react, but we’ll keep lobbying him. In the same month, the government, ALP and Greens all came together to strengthen legislation on bans for inducements for new sports gambling account holders. It’s an unexpected sign that there might be more opportunities for reform in the most pokie-captured state in Australia. It would be better of course if all inducements were banned - click here to email the gambling Minister.

On the horizon in NSW...

In 2020 we’ll be increasing our calls to ban gambling-related loyalty programs in pubs and clubs across NSW - and joining up organisations to back the campaign. You can help by giving us information about how your club or pub operates through our info form. Our advocacy will be backed by research. The Alliance is also advising on two research programs in Western Sydney, one designing and testing a new screening tool for community service organisations to detect gambling harm and direct clients towards help; the other to build a better delivery model for gambling help for CALD communities. 

 

Sports Gambling

Big banks acting to reduce gambling harm

We’re pleased to end the year with some promising news coming out of the banks, as the Australian Banking Association undertakes community consultation around gambling with credit. The Alliance will be in touch early next year about how you can have your say and why this is so important for reducing gambling harm. Earlier this month, the National Australia Bank also introduced an online feature allowing customers to block transactions on credit and debit cards. We’re pleased to hear this has seen strong uptake and look forward to the other Big Four banks implementing similar harm reduction measures.

Australians better protected 

2019 will be remembered as the year that many significant harm reduction measures were adopted to better protect Australians from online gambling harm. Following a landmark agreement between state and federal governments, this month we’ve seen the introduction of legislation to establish a National Self Exclusion Register. The Alliance was consulted on the draft bills and amplified the voices of those with lived experience to inform this important policy outcome. The Alliance has also provided testimony to the Age-Verification Inquiry to better protect children from online gambling harm.

On the horizon for sports gambling…

Earlier this month the ABC blew open the dark world of the sports gambling industry with its investigative piece into Bet365. Over the summer, the Alliance will continue to pressure Cricket Australia to dump its $5 million a year sponsorship deal with the corporate bookmaker, who joins the AFL in cosying up to an industry incongruous with its family-friendly values. Next year the Alliance will bring together the voices of community, faith, council and sporting groups to launch its campaign to End Gambling Ads. Stay tuned for how you can get involved in early 2020!

 

Champions for Change

Advocates making things happen

We’d like to say a huge thank you to those of you who know first-hand how gambling affects people and communities, and who’ve contributed to our campaigns during 2019. This year lived experience advocates have shared their stories both publicly and behind the scenes to effect change. They’ve worked with journalists to ensure there is a human face to gambling harm discussions; they’ve confronted board members of gambling industry heavyweights like Aristocrat, Tabcorp and Woolworths at AGMs with real stories; they’ve met MPs; led community stalls; provided testimony to fight local poker machine applications, as well as state and federal policy submissions; spoken at council meetings and written letters to decision makers. We couldn’t make gambling reform happen without Champions for Change.

A message from Anna Bardsley, Victorian Champions for Change Coordinator and 2019 Healthy and Active Living Award winner for Victorian Seniors 

“I often think about the enormity of what we’re trying to do. Gambling is so normalised in Australia. It feels good to be part of a team with the same goal, to keep the conversation of gambling harm out there. People with lived experience are essential to making change happen. When we tell our stories of what it was like to gamble, of the effect on ourselves and those we love, and how hard recovery has been it changes the tone of the conversation. 

And when we stand beside each other and speak together, that’s powerful, especially considering the shame and stigma we have all had to contend with. We have an important role to play in achieving our shared vision of a community free from gambling harm.”

Join us as an advocate in 2020?

If your life has been affected by gambling, whether you’ve gambled yourself, are the parent, child or loved one of someone impacted, we’d love to hear from you. You can work alongside others who’ve experienced gambling harm to change the system and protect others in 2020 and beyond. We have closed facebook groups for people to connect and share skills, for those interested, we run training, and you can sign up to a special newsletter with updates and information about how to support the various campaigns.  

 

Leadership Councils

Councils mark Gambling Harm Awareness Week in Victoria

As well as attending the gathering on the steps of parliament, many of our Victorian Leadership Councils marked Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2019 with local community events. Alliance chief spokesperson Rev Tim Costello addressed some of these including a packed community forum in Maroondah hosted by the Eastern Libraries Coalition. Community awareness and concern about gambling harm is growing and events like these are a fantastic example of Councils leading and contributing to this conversation. 

Pokies applications

There have been many live pokies venue applications recently and a number of Leadership Councils stepping up to back local communities and oppose these. October 2019 saw a huge win for Darebin City Council and its residents when the Darebin RSL withdrew its plan for an extra 15 predatory pokies in Preston. The win was greeted as “great news” by local resident and lived experience advocate Stuart McDonald. Well done to all those councils stepping up to stop pain in your communities from new or expanded pokies dens!  

On the horizon for councils...

As we head into 2020 there’s still much to be done to reduce local harms from gambling, and lots of opportunities to get involved. There have recently been further revelations about the failure of ‘community benefits’ schemes to deliver real support to communities. In light of this, we’ll continue working with those councils supporting community organisations seeking to sever ties with the gambling industry and provide safe and inclusive local spaces for connection, free from gambling harm. 2020 also looks to be a busy year for local fights to fend off new or expanded pokies dens, with many applications currently live or in the pipeline.

Once again, wishing you a very happy and safe festive season from everyone at the Alliance for Gambling Reform. We look forward to working with you again next year.