Australian Gambling's Dark Side: Drugs, Child Neglect

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:
Apr/03/2011

Queensland: Casino Child Laws Under Microscope...

New laws aimed at stopping children being dumped outside Queensland casinos are failing to stop parents choosing having a punt over parenting. Secret State Government documents reveal a loophole is partly to blame for the continuing problem of children being left outside casinos in cars or lobbies. In the first full year of the new regime in 2009, Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast recorded 27 cases and the Treasury in Brisbane eight cases of children being abandoned. The land based casinos have defended their performance under the laws, pointing out the total number of abandoned children cases had fallen from 48 in 2008 to 35 in 2009. In one Brisbane case, children aged 15, 13, 9 and 8 were left on the steps outside the Treasury while their mother initially claimed she went to the toilet because she was ill. "After further questioning the mother admitted to leaving the children unattended while she re-entered the casino to gamble on blackjack," a report said. The reports can be revealed after a year-long right to information battle for the documents with gaming giant Tabcorp, the owner of the Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville casinos. In December 2008, the Government introduced new laws making it an offence for parents to dump children while gambling, with jail terms of up to 3 years. However, Queensland Police was unable to confirm last week whether anyone had been charged under the new offence at casinos. A ministerial briefing note shows the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation believes many of the cases are continuing because the new legislation is not wide enough. In the note, OLGR executive director Michael Sarquis advised that many of the children dumped were aged 12 to 18, putting them outside the scope of the new laws, which only included under-12s. Treasury Casino managing director Geoff Hogg said Tabcorp believed the new laws had helped reduce the number of cases. "This is a direct reflection of the more effective measures Tabcorp are constantly implementing as leaders in this field," he said. However, Australian Family Association spokesman Luke McCormack said the new laws were clearly too narrow. "The 35 cases in a year is quite alarming," he said.

A Media Man spokesperson said "It appears that there is some room for improvement when it comes to the Queensland casino child dumping laws. Perhaps more security patrols are needed. Having said that, land based casinos are not child minding centres either. The responsibility needs to end with the parent or guardian, as in other areas of a child's life".

Parkinson's Disease 'Cure' Linked To Gambling Addiction Says West Australians...

Five West Australians who claim they became gambling addicts after taking medication for Parkinson's disease are among more than 100 Aussies suing two pharmaceutical giants. Heartbreaking cases of financial ruin and family breakdowns are at front and centre of the class action. Aspen Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer Australia are being asked for the first time to defend their respective drugs, Permax and Cabaser. Jot those names down in the black book. The lawsuit claims negligence, defective product and failure to warn of potential dangers. Anne Shortall, who is representing the class action on behalf of Melbourne firm Arnold Thomas and Becker, said some of the clients also developed compulsive sexual behaviour. She said five West Australians were involved in the lawsuit. "The drugs mimic the effect of dopamine in the brain, which is a pleasure-seeking type chemical and can cause addictive-type behaviour," Ms Shortall said. "Most of the clients had an obsessive pathological urge to gamble that they couldn't control, and that has led to huge financial loss and family breakdowns."

Australian Grandmother Says Prescription Drugs Turned Her Into Gambler...

A grandmother claims a prescription drug used for restless leg syndrome turned her into a conwoman and jailbird. Pat Galea alleges the drug made her an addicted gambler who lost roughly $400,000 over 8 years, cost her her marriage and shamed her previously spotless reputation. The Rosebud grandmother of two turned to shoplifting and dishonesty offences to feed her compulsive behaviour. She was jailed for a month after breaching several community-based orders, and was placed on suicide watch. "In the end I wasn't only gambling with money, I was gambling with my life," Mrs Galea, 61, said. Galea is one of 100 people who are taking legal action against two drug giants, claiming to have become addicted to gambling or sex after taking drugs known as "dopamine agonists" to treat Parkinson's disease, restless leg syndrome and other conditions. The drug firms Pfizer and Aspen Pharmacare Australia were served Federal Court writs this week alleging they breached a duty of care to customers. Galea said: "I used to be the one who controlled the (family) finances; and suddenly I was out of control. It was scary, I was a different person, I'd never gambled beforehand and suddenly I was waiting for my pay to lodge and it would be gone the next day. Common sense told me ... it had to be the medication." Galea stopped taking the medication in 2008 and said she had not gambled since. The Australian class action is being run by Anne Shortall of Arnold Thomas & Becker, who said the effects of the compulsive behaviour caused by the medications had been disastrous. "It has caused financial losses, family breakdowns and criminal charges for some clients," she said. "Companies that have profited from the sale of the drugs should have warned of the side-effects and should be held accountable." Aspen Pharmacare refused to comment while Pfizer did not return calls. No surprise with the quietness from the drug companies. Don't suppose they took too much of their own drugs - which sent them quite... just kidding.

A Media Man spokesperson said "On the surface it appears that there is some merit in the claims relating to gambling addiction being caused by dopamine agonists. It wouldn't appear wise for existing gamblers to take the drugs either, or if they need, to have a medical doctor closely monitor the situation, in light of the class action lawsuit".

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