In Australia Do Gambling And Politics Mix? Volatile Cocktail

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:

G'day punters, casino and gambling millionaires and billionaires, sports nuts, club and casino owner - operators, politicians, legal eagles, one and all. Australia is a big drinking and gambling nation. Do gambling and politics mix? Yes indeed, and its a volatile cocktail to say the least. Today we explore some of the relationships as well as other fun and games in the sector.  Media Man Gambling911 mix your drinks, and proclaim "Bar's Open" 24/7. Cheers maties...

NSW Liberals: Clubs, Pubs, Property Developers Friendly And On Side...

Australia's Labor party has had big issues with the gaming, clubs and property developer sector over the years, but now with the NSW Liberal election win we learn that Liberal's are on side with these business sectors. NSW premier-to-be Barry O’Farrell advised registered clubs and property developers have been unfairly treated by Labor during its 16 years in office. O'Farrell has promised to give these mighty sectors more support. "The club industry has suffered what the property sector has suffered". Stay tuned from more on the club and developer friendly Liberals, and don't bet against them to be elected into Federal office, quicker than you can see "Mr X hates gaming".

Mandatory Pre-Commitment Questionable Success Based On Overseas Results...

Mandatory "pre-commitment" does not look to be a silver bullet. Tabcorp and Tattersalls may lose the monopoly they have on Victoria's pokies next year. Tattersalls may actually benefit with its poker machine monitoring system, Maxgaming, that touts its "pre-commitment abilities" as well as value-adding services such as wide-area linked jackpots, which are criticised for exacerbating problem gambling. The Woolies pubs and pokies subsidiary, ALH, will become the biggest operator of slots in Australia once Tabcorp and Tattersalls lose their monopoly but any impact will be diluted by its much larger grocery business. Australia's leading poker machine makers, Aristocrat Leisure and Ainsworth Game Technology, may be two of a small number of companies to profit from the prop, which has the potential to drive machine upgrades. Merrill Lynch, a consulting firm, said that a "systems-based solution" where most of the intelligence would be in the network connecting the machines rather than in the machines themselves "would represent a much less significant opportunity for Aristocrat" and other manufacturers.

Aussie Online Gamblers Continues To Bet $1 Billion Bucks Per Annum...

Gaming companies with a foothold down under in Australia are welcoming the news, but gaming haters are none to pleased with findings from the latest study. A recent probe  has demonstrated that punters have been wagering over $1 billion a year on online betting per year. Sports betting is a major growth area, fuelled by sports television programs featuring cricket, the NRL and ALF, and poker, slots and classic casino games continue to performing strongly. PartyGaming, Captain Cooks and Playtech casinos are understood to be picking up most of the Australian and New Zealand business, with Party being more popular with live dealer and slots players. Bingo has not become as popular in Australia as it is in Europe and virtual gaming titles. Crown Casino and Star City casino are interested to get in on the action with igaming also, with Betfair, PartyGaming and NextGen Gaming talks understood to have taken place. Some have responded to the results with fresh concerns regarding the implementation of effective online regulation. Online gambling is authorised by the the Australian government and is further safeguarded by the Interactive Gambling Act. Sally Gainsbury, speaking on behalf of Southern University's Centre for Gambling Education and Research, stated "We know that 30% of Australians over 16 have gambled online, investing about $1 billion in 2010". She's called on greater safeguards to "protect the punter" in a very busy and diverse online industry. Former casino consultant and president of the Australian Casino Association, John Beagle, advised foreign gaming was responsible for sending millions of dollars worth of revenue overseas. He said that online poker was a "sociable game" demanding skill and intelligence. He concluded by calling for additional support from the Australian government as the reviewing process gets underway. Gamers, media, portal developers, operators and legal eagles are monitoring developments closely.

Gambling With Public Health In Australia. Dr Charles Livingstone Writes...

Why the gambling industry is a serious public health threat

Commercial gambling now permeates our society. In Australia, pubs, clubs, newsagents and casinos sell gambling products, and Australians spend (or, it might be said) lose around $19 billion a year, $12 billion of it on poker machines (also known as electronic gambling machines, or EGMs). Gambling businesses sponsor elite sports and good causes; state governments reap around $6 billion per year from the proceeds of gambling. But at any one time hundreds of thousands of Australians are directly affected by the consequences of excessive or ‘problem’ gambling, and many times that number of family members, employers or loved ones are affected by the gambling problems of others with whom they have a connection. At least 40% of the money that is spent on EGMs comes from people with a serious problem, and another 20% from those with a developing or moderate problem. The consequences of excessive gambling include physical and mental ill-health, family breakdown, the neglect and abuse of children, financial ruin, crime and associated incarceration, and in some cases self-harm and suicide. These are not trivial, and it is clear that commercial gambling in its current form presents a serious threat to health and wellbeing. However, unlike many other such threats, those presented by commercial gambling are highly avoidable, and highly amenable to a full range of public health interventions. The current approach to gambling problems adopted by the gambling businesses, regulators and governments, generally known as ‘responsible gambling’, shifts the focus of gambling problems and the responsibility for them on to the individuals affected. Although the counselling and other support services currently offered are important and should be continued, the approach currently employed to address the harms of problem gambling has been focused on the ‘pathologised’ individual. This approach minimises the responsibility of gambling businesses and governments, whose revenue shares would be adversely affected by serious upstream action against gambling. A comprehensive public health approach to gambling is necessary if we are to reduce these harms and generate social conditions which support health and wellness. These include changes to regulation to ensure that gambling devices are safe and that the interest of those who use them are well protected, technological interventions to allow gamblers to much better track and control their expenditure of time and money, systems to allow the earliest possible identification of those with a developing gambling problem, and to facilitate early intervention, and prohibitions on dangerous marketing such as promotions involving children, free food and drink, or rewards for gambling expenditure. The 2010 Productivity Commission report on gambling recommended that such initiatives were long overdue. It urged governments to implement pre-commitment (permitting gamblers to set binding limits on gambling expenditure BEFORE they start to gamble) and reductions in maximum bets and other regulated parameters, designed to make machines safer, less voracious, and more likely to provide low risk entertainment. All of these interventions are feasible and can be achieved at modest cost, and within a relatively short timeframe. It is well over time to address this eminently avoidable harm. There are many public health measures which cannot be well addressed at present, but we know a great deal about how to effectively reduce gambling related harm using public health measures. All that has been lacking, until now, is political will.

Canberra: Gambling Forum Update...

Before he was old enough to vote, Bob Everett's gambling problem was out of control. As a 15-year-old youngster, he spent time at the racetrack, where bookies were keen to take his money. If it wasn't horses Everett, 59, would play two-up with other men in the mining town of Port Pirie, South Australia. "Gambling made my adrenaline flow, it was just like getting high," the recovered gambling addict told the press. The introduction of poker machines in the 1970s "topped-off" his addiction, which lasted more than 40 years, cost an estimated $1 million, and ended in jail time for embezzlement. The seven-month prison stint and help from a support group in Adelaide helped Everett overcome his addiction several years ago. He travelled to Canberra last Tuesday to share his story of "a life in ruin" with federal politicians at a gambling forum, led by a new church-based taskgroup. Everett believes the community is unaware of the "disease", which he helps addicts to combat. "If you're an alcoholic or drug addict people have sympathy, but if you're a gambler they assume it's your own fault," he said. Everett is a strong advocate of the Gillard government's proposed crackdown on problem gambling. The church-led National Gambling Taskgroup is also lobbying in support of a mandatory pre-commitment scheme that will require gamblers to set limits with ATM-style cards. The plan is part of a deal Labor struck with independent MP Andrew Wilkie to form a minority government. Gambling taskgroup spokesman the Reverend Brent Lyons Lee says gaming groups want a voluntary scheme. "It needs to be mandatory (for all gamblers), everyone needs to be involved," he told reporters in Canberra. Federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin agrees, saying a mandatory scheme will provide "stronger protections". "A voluntary system would be like having seat belts in cars but making wearing them up to the individual," she told the forum on Tuesday. The government wants the states and territories to sign up to its plan by May, and has threatened to use commonwealth tax powers to force the measures. Daily withdrawal limits of $250 for ATMs near pokies and electronic warning signs will also be required under the scheme. 

A Media Man spokesperson said "Australia has had approximately one major gambling forum per month, both last year and this, so awareness of what is called problem gambling has been raised significantly. The topic continues to attract strong state, national and international news coverage. We think that there is always room for improvements in any industry, and gaming and igaming are no different. We welcome intelligent reforms".

'Arcade Pokies' May Get Banned...

Amusement machines that have flashing lights rather like pokies, in a roundabout way, and also offer expensive prizes or reward players with prizes based on luck would be declared illegal, Gambling Minister Bernard Finnigan said. He will release a discussion paper, inviting public feedback "on plans to declare certain machines illegal". "Some amusement arcades have previously installed games that are very similar to gaming machines," Finnigan said. "Community concerns have been raised that some machines could be inappropriate for children and could become a pathway to gambling behaviour." Examples of machines which could be banned include one at a popular beachside arcade displaying the words "win win win" and providing DVDs as prizes based purely on luck, at a cost of $1. Finnigan stressed coin-operated ride-on toys, pinball machines, billiard tables, air hockey tables or claw-crane machines would not be banned. No Pokies Senator Nick Xenophon welcomed the move, saying the arcade machines to be targeted were "like kids training machines for poker machines" but he said the Government should have acted earlier. "These machines don't involve skill, they just rely on a random selection system to create winners and losers - just like poker machines - and we all know the devastating effect poker machines can have," he said. "We must do everything we can to ensure these machines targeting children don't normalise games of chance like poker machines." Xenophon said a study of 2500 teenagers by Adelaide University revealed a correlation between arcade and video gamers and anti-social behaviour that could lead to problem gambling. Independent MLC John Darley raised the issue in Parliament in November and supports the Government's plan. "Anything which looks like a poker machine should be banned because, once kids get hooked on these, the next stop is playing pokies when they're old enough," he said. "This is a preventative measure to stop people becoming hooked on such games and then poker machines and end up losing all their money." Finnigan said after the consultation period, which ends on May 13, Treasury and Finance would draft regulations to outlaw the relevant machines. There is no definitive list of machines that could be banned but the Sunday Mail understands such games can be found at shopping centres, cinemas and games arcades across the state. Speculation reins on what 'Mr X' may target next, but already we hear that his power is on a steep incline, with the Liberal - Nationals Coalition now in NSW office.

Punter Fev Still Gambling...

Brendan Fevola has been asked to leave Crown Casino again. He was staying at the Casino on Sunday night, and was turned away by responsible gambling officers when he tried to go onto the gaming floor with Ben Cousins. And there are reports, Fevola's fed up with playing VFL football for the Scorpions, after being told he'll be in the Reserves again this week. He's reportedly toying with the idea of playing in Tasmania, but as of now is still scheduled to start the season with the Scorpions.

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