Australia Gambling and Entertainment News – November 3, 2010

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:


Punters, entertainment and celebrity news junkies, casino and media millionaires and billionaires, and one and all. Another huge news update for you for one of the biggest Aussie gambling and entertainment weeks on record. Big brother to watch Aussie pensioners in pokie palaces, yet another Burswood casino attack, Cricket TV rights - Packer VS Gyngell, Melbourne Cup Day and much more. Media Man and Gambling911 satisfy your habit for the best gambling and entertainment news available anywhere...

Big Brother To Spy On Aussie Pensioners Pokie Wins And Losses...

Up to a million of elderly Australians playing poker machines might see their pensions cut after wins as smartcards are introduced to track oldies gambling habits. Yes, they are tracking humans, not rats. Centrelink has previously used data tracked from pensioners using swipe cards at major casinos to count wins and losses as earnings, and demanded repayment, but that's only the tip of the iceberg as to what will come experts say.

Thus far Centrelink has refused to tell welfare legal services whether or not other regular gambling wins need to be declared as income, despite the Tax Office not deeming them to be. Until now, it was impossible to track one armed bandit wins. Smartcards that identify each user on a national poker machine network will be introduced from 2012, recording how much has been won and lost, under a deal struck by the federal government with the independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

National Welfare Rights Network director Maree O'Halloran said: "We are very concerned that a major problem for pensioners that arose at casinos, where their gambling losses were treated by Centrelink as evidence of earnings, may start to arise in a whole lot of communities now where people gamble on poker machines and they have the new card.'' 

More than a dozen cases of pensioners whose gambling habit was tracked through swipe cards at casinos and were assessed to owe Centrelink money are awaiting a ruling in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The Welfare Rights Network has now contacted South Australian senator Nick Xenophon and Mr Wilkie, saying a "biometric card" to limit gambling losses could reduce high levels of problem gambling, but also had the potential for large numbers of pensioners to be caught by unclear rules on the reporting of income, partly because pensions are means-tested.

''The Welfare Rights Centre supports methods to stop excessive gambling and we know gambling can destroy lives,'' said Ms O'Halloran. ''We are alerting the government to this issue so they can protect, and Centrelink can tell people clearly what income do they have to declare if they gamble.''

Austrac provides data gathered from banks and casinos to Centrelink. Gambling services must monitor and record customer identities and transactions, including the reporting of big payouts to Austrac, under anti-money laundering laws. An Austrac spokeswoman said pubs and clubs with poker machines were not complying with these rules, and it was already in discussions with the sector on how to improve "intelligence gathering". Ms O'Halloran said the use of the swipe card data on gambling as evidence of pensioner income was misleading. ''People sometimes win $100, and lose $400. They can do that within one day … Centrelink would see that as you had $500 worth of income,'' she said. Centrelink has told the centre it assessed gambling wins depending on each customer's individual circumstances.

Tatts CEO Eyes Tabcorp...

Australian gaming and wagering company Tatts Group may consider bidding for the gaming and wagering business of Tabcorp after the rival firm's planned split in 2011, Chief Executive Dick McIlwain said. "We have always been interested, there are a lot of similarities between their businesses," Chief Executive Chief Executive Dick McIlwain told Reuters ahead of the firm's annual general meeting. "In any discussions we have had before, there is quite a difference of opinion on value," he said, adding Tatts would wait for the demerger before making any move. Tabcorp Holdings announced plans this month to spin off its casinos into a separately listed company in 2011, which has spawned talk it is paving the way for its two arms to be taken over. Tatts has long been seen as a potential suitor for Tabcorp's gaming and wagering business. 

Coalition Will Help Gamblers...

A coalition government would fit "pre-commitment devices" to all Victorian poker machines so gamblers could how much money they spend. The technology would signal to gamblers to stop once a designated limit was reached and limit losses and damage that problem gamblers do to themselves, Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said on Monday.

"Pre-commitment respects the right of individuals to make their own decisions and directly tackle their gambling problem," he said in a statement. "The technology helps gamblers to stick to the limits they have set once they start playing pokies."

Last month, the gaming industry opposed the introduction of the technology on existing pokies, when the federal government pledged to look at introducing it in exchange for anti-pokies independent MP Andrew Wilkie's support. The Victorian Opposition says gaming venues will have to accept and implement it. Premier John Brumby has said he supports mandatory pre-commitment devices but Mr Baillieu said the Coalition would introduce them from 2012 instead of 2016, under Labor plans.  Baillieu said that, if elected, he would also ban lobbyists exerting improper influence over government processes to award gaming and wagering licences.

"Victorians have been alarmed by revelations of inappropriate access to sensitive licensing documents by lobbyists during the lottery licence bid and secret negotiations over the expansion of the Crown Casino and a potential second casino," he said.

A Coalition government would amend the Gambling Regulation Act to ban such lobbying activities for awarding gaming and wagering licences, he said.

Hey, Hey, It's Saturday Bottom Shots Causes Stir!...

Network Nine has now admitted it made a mistake to show close-ups of the bottoms of young girls in shorts performing on Hey Hey It's Saturday. The shots on the live show were described by celeb singer Ella Hooper as "pedophilic", causing a stir in the studio audience and a storm on Twitter and Facebook, Murdoch media firm News Limited. "Hey Hey It’s Saturday is a live program, with hundreds of directorial decisions made in rapid succession," a Nine spokeswoman told the News Limited. "The camera angle in question was ill-chosen. However, any offence caused was completely unintentional.” Hooper, a celebrity judge on Red Faces, commented after a singing and dancing performance by three young girls dressed in a country and western style that the camera angles were inappropriate. In a later judging segment she went further, saying the shots of the young girls were "pedophilic", in response to being quizzed by host Daryl Somers, who asked if she approved of the direction. It is the second time the Red Faces segment on the show has come under the blowtorch since the return of the iconic show. A black faces segment was criticised by another celebrity judge, American crooner Harry Connick Jnr, last year. The subject of the close-ups was widely debated on Hey Hey's Facebook page, where some viewers defended the show and criticised Hooper for exaggerating. Plucka-Duck would not comment on the bottom shots!

Gyngell VS Packer For Cricket Broadcast Rights...

James Packer and Network Nine Chief Executive David Gyngell are set for a cricket war with rights renewals up for grabs in the next year. Australian cricket officials expect Packer, now a part of the Ten Network as a major shareholder, to target the lucrative rights to shore up Ten's summer broadcasting slate and add to the list of sports for niche digital channel One HD. Confusion however over the future of One reigns with speculation it could be dropped completely or retooled as a male sports and lifestyle channel. Like his famous father Kerry, Packer has been a fan of cricket since childhood and the newer form of the game, Twenty20, is aimed at Ten's younger audience demographics. It is also a major ratings force for Nine, often pulling figures higher than the showcase Rugby League State of Origin series. Cricket in Australia might be in strife, with front-page headlines today outlining declines in audience, spectators, children playing the game and marketing issues, but indications are that Nine and Ten will fight hard for the rights. Nine has been the home of cricket in Australia since the elder Packer transformed the game around the world with World Series Cricket in the late 1970s. "James loves cricket - there's no question about that," Gyngell told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper. "But I'm running a business and Channel Nine is the home of cricket. It is the backbone of our station over summer and it has been for a very long time." There is mounting speculation that Ten could team with Fox Sports, of which Packer is a major shareholder, to jointly bid for the cricket rights, similar to the Nine and Fox Sports joint deal in place for the National Rugby League. Whatever happens, the broadcast future of the game in Australia appears secure. The current broadcast rights expires in May 2013. Let's just hope there's no more cricket betting scandals.

Another Attack Outside Burswood Casino...

An elderly woman who fought back against a handbag snatcher in Perth has suffered a cut lip, broken teeth dentures and bruising as she and her daughter were robbed. The 73-year-old mother and her 37-year-old daughter were returning to their car in the car park of the Burswood Casino about 10.20pm on Sunday when a car full of 5 teenage boys pulled up beside them. Police said one teen asked the daughter for $10 for petrol but when she refused he asked her the time then grabbed her handbag. Another of the youths then grabbed the mother's handbag, Sergeant Gerry Cassidy said. "The mother put up more of a struggle and was pulled to the ground and she's got a cut lip, broken dentures and bruising to her arm and leg." Police are searching for the mongrels, aged between 16 and 18, who escaped with both women's handbags.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

Gambling News