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1. Message from Tim Costello
What an action-packed period it’s been since our last newsletter, both for the Alliance and for gambling reform!
At the Alliance, we’ve appointed our new CEO, Gordon Ramsay. If you missed the announcement about this, you can read more here.
The revelations coming out of the Crown Royal Commissions in both Victoria and Western Australia have been nothing short of extraordinary. In the words of Counsel Assisting: 'These personal stories provide to this Commission some first-hand context for understanding the serious nature of gambling harm to victims and members of the community. They underpin the importance of obligations that sit with Crown under its license.'
We are so proud of the people who made submissions about how gambling harm has affected their lives. The Alliance’s submission was a comprehensive piece of work led by our Campaigns Director Margaret Quixley. It’s making waves already.
We couldn’t do this important work without you, our supporters. We really appreciate your donations that help us achieve our goal of preventing and reducing the impact of gambling harm in Australia. If you would like to make a donation to the Alliance before the end of the financial year click here.
Yours in hope for change,
Rev Tim Costello
Alliance for Gambling Reform
The concurrent Royal Commissions on Crown in Victoria and Western Australia have been providing explosive testimony, including regular revelations of gambling harm occurring at the casinos and a complete lack of intervention or prevention on Crown’s behalf.
We were pleased the deadline for the findings has been extended, and the budget doubled for the Victorian Royal Commission. This is no doubt off the back of the revelations to date, including submissions made by Alliance supporters and lived experience advocates. The deadline for submissions is now 9 July, so there is still time to tell your story about Crown.
The Alliance’s submission asserts Crown is unfit to hold a licence, and outlines extensive failings at the casino to meet its obligations to the people of Victoria. You can read the full submission here, and an abridged version here. You can also follow the hearings online or read the transcripts here.
3. Victorian pokies losses spiking
Unfortunately the Alliance’s predictions about poker machine losses spiking due to COVID’s impacts have come true. April was one of the worst months ever for losses in Victoria, with Brimbank alone recording almost $500,000 a day in losses. The ABC gave us tremendous coverage, with the Conversation Hour and Drive shows all discussing poker machine losses in Victoria.
We have reiterated our calls for reduced operating hours for poker machines, especially in Victoria where they can be on 20 hours a day, the worst hours in Australia.
Melbourne Football Club has fulfilled its 2018 commitment to move out of poker machines and away from its reliance on gaming revenue by selling the Bentleigh Club. Now more than half of AFL clubs can proudly say they’re pokies free and it’s all thanks to people like you!
As Budgets have come down around the states, it was disheartening to see NSW still budgeting on increased gambling taxes, which can only come from increased losses. We wrote to NSW MPs about this, and highlighted something important missing in the Budget: a significant increase in spending on gambling harm prevention and minimisation.
Tim Costello caught up with Stu Cameron (CEO & Superintendent, Wesley Mission) and Simon Hansford (Moderator, Uniting Church NSW/ACT) to talk about what should be in the budget, and how we can work more closely with these organisations towards gambling reform, a key social justice issue.
The Alliance also helped the Fairfield Multicultural Interagency gambling subcommittee gather 18 key faith leaders for a gambling reform update. In a first for the Fairfield area, Assyrian, Chaldean, Antiochian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox and Agape International Church ministers, Buddhists from the Cambodian and Lao communities, Turkish and Alevi hocas (Islamic religious leaders and advisors) and members of the Sabean-Mandaean faith attended.
The Alliance’s campaign to #EndGamblingAds continues to grow daily, with more than 24,000 supporters joining. We’ve joined forces with Save our SBS to advocate for this important public broadcaster to stop airing gambling ads.
Our new Sports Campaigner, Taya Stocks, ran a webinar recently to get supporters involved in our campaign. It was a great success, with an intro from Tim Costello, followed by the President of Save our SBS Steve Aujard, Brimbank Deputy Mayor Jasmine Nguyen and lived experience advocate Paul Fung. We look forward to deepening this relationship with Save Our SBS towards our ultimate goal of getting gambling ads off SBS, and everywhere else!
Many of our Voices have put significant effort into writing their own testimonies for the Victorian Crown Royal Commission. Voices also appeared in person and on Zoom links to tell their stories. These incredible stories have made a huge impact on the Royal Commission. This has been both a moving and empowering part of the work here at the Alliance. You can read many of these submissions here.
The new Introduction Training for New Voices for Gambling Reform session was a great success (sign up here if you’d like to join!). We will continue these quarterly. These sessions introduce new people to the work of the Alliance and the importance of their story and the power that they have to share and influence the public in many different ways.
We welcome on board Manningham Council as a new Leadership Council of the Alliance! Manningham took a major step last year when it bought the Templestowe RSL to be leased back to the League on the proviso no poker machines be introduced or operated on the site.
Congratulations to Macedon Ranges Shire Council for refusing a $15,000 donation for community projects in Gisborne because the money was raised from gaming machines! Cr Janet Pearce said it would be contradictory for the council to give a scheme designed to improve community health, funds that have been raised through electronic gaming machines.
At the Australian Local Government Association Conference in Canberra we met with many councillors who care deeply about gambling reform. We even got some photos with them.
The Alliance has made a submission to this Inquiry, strongly supporting the prohibition of gambling with credit including using credit cards, based on the principle that people should not be encouraged to gamble with money they do not have.
The Alliance has joined more than 30 other organisations on a project to bring together civil society organisations and enhance communication and connectedness across the social change sector for a thriving democracy.
Our Campaigns Director, Margaret Quixley, said upon joining: “The undue influence of corporate interests over the political and policy-making process is the single greatest obstacle we face in the effort to prevent and reduce gambling harm.”
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