Every day $18.7million is lost through poker machines in New South Wales. Every day of the year.
We need all MPs to start dealing with this as a public health issue and to swiftly act to minimize and prevent further harm. NSW still has over 92,000 poker machines (over 30% of the world’s non-casino pokies) and numbers have only fallen 5% in a decade.
Pokies are designed to addict and they contribute to poverty, mental health issues, and family violence.
Current major campaign in NSW: Sign our petition to pressure the Premier to #FlicktheSwitch and close down all gambling rooms. See our joint letter with friends from Wesley Mission, NCOSS and Western Sydney Community Forum which points out that poker machine rooms are high-risk transmission zones, and that the last thing we need in NSW in a pandemic are pokies.
To be safe, all workplaces should have COVID plans. Here are examples in English and community languages from the NSW government. And because these are difficult times, we're sharing the Western Sydney Recovery Centre's tips on self-care in English and community languages.
We're campaigning to start the process of reducing gambling harm with common sense policies such as:
1. Bringing in $1 maximum bets
2. Ending loyalty schemes that encourage people to gamble more
(click on the link to tip us off about loyalty programs in clubs and pubs)
3. Giving councils the right to say “NO” to pokie machines
Other campaigns you can support:
We want NSW Councils to have at least the same rights as Victorian ones to say NO! Sign the petition to give Councils the final say
We need to be able to access the information and data detailing pokie harm in NSW, sign the petition
Other actions you could take:
The NSW Budget Estimates sessions occur several times a year. This is where Upper House MPs can quiz Ministers, senior public servants and statutory bodies, like the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. Those questions must be answered. You can ask your local MP to help you get a question asked - see here for further information.
We've been asking our supporters to lobby the Minister for gambling, Victor Dominello, and the Premier to act on gambling reform. We've been having key meetings with MPs, but they only act when they hear from residents. Your work has helped make these changes in NSW:
Awareness week: On Thursday 17 October 2019, the NSW Parliament's Upper House called on the government to change the name of the annual awareness week from the industry favoured Responsible Gambling Awareness Week to the more accurate Gambling Harm Awareness Week. In March 2020, the Minister and Office of Responsible Gambling announced a name change in 2020 - it will now be the GambleAware Week. Underwhelmed? So are we, especially since that name is the one used by the UK bookmakers' "charity" for their voluntary awareness week in Britain. Still - your efforts helped convince the Minister to start the move, and now we just need to keep the pressure on to get to a useful name in 2021.
Inducements: Also in October 2019, parliament also worked together to strengthen bans on inducements to get people to open online betting accounts. Excellent. Even better would be to ban inducements to gambling for everyone! Click here to send an email to the Minister asking for a total inducement ban.
Changing the Culture: On behalf of concerned supporters, the Alliance lodged complaints against two clubs, Wests Ashfield, and Wests New Lambton (not related), around their membership promotions. Both complaints were upheld. We don't exactly know why (some cultural change has a way to go, especially over data transparency), but we believe that Liquor and Gaming are looking a lot more closely at how clubs try to lure people into gambling too much in order to get membership benefits.
In July 2020, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority released two blunt and savage reports - into the Woolies/ALH pubs that had been serving free drinks to gamblers, and recording their behaviours; and into the Dee Why RSL over the way its VIP scheme contributed to Gary Van Duinen's death by suicide.
What we're up against:
The NSW Coalition's Memos of Understanding with ClubsNSW:
The NSW ALP's Clubs Policy, released during the 2019 state election campaign