Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Australia has the highest gambling losses per head of population in the world. 

The Alliance for Gambling Reform says more than $1 billion has been saved in poker machine losses in the past five weeks.  This is $200 million a week not being spent on gambling in Australia.

– John has self-excluded from hundreds of venues, but they continue to let him in to gamble away his pension and his mother’s money.  Self-exclusion is a facade and a joke.  Pubs and clubs and the government doesn’t want the gambling machine to slow down or stop, and the most vulnerable are the gambling addicts who aren’t getting the promised help and support.

Lives have been lost, jobs and businesses have been wiped out, and individuals have had to come to grips with being isolated from family and friends.

No industry has felt the strain more than pubs, clubs and casinos. From March 23, they had to close their doors at short notice, throwing the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Australians into turmoil.

But for some Australians these closures have proved a blessing rather than a curse.

ABC Investigations has been in contact with hundreds of people affected by problem gambling, and we asked whether coronavirus shutdowns have changed gambling habits.

Many of them have described the past five weeks as one of the most peaceful periods they can remember.

Here are three of their stories.

The mineworker

Corey* is a mineworker from Queensland. He knows too well the pain that a gambling addiction can cause.

His father lost the family home through betting on the horses when Corey was a small boy.

“All these years later, it still causes fights in my family,” he said.

“Knowing my family history, I became a staunch anti-gambler. I’d never even bet on the horses.”

The 29-year-old avoided the issues his father had. Until July last year.

“My father got diagnosed with a form of dementia and I went into a dark place. I started drinking heavily and began to play the pokies.”

The Queenslander had been working hard as a fly-in fly-out mine worker and was saving for a home.

Within two months of taking up the pokies his $25,000 deposit was gone.

“I’d wake up at 10:00am, go to a pub or club, and play the pokies, sometimes until 3:00am.”

He would repeat this pattern during his week off in the city, before flying back to a mining camp to work for two weeks.

After another two months, he sold his prized 4WD for $17,000 to feed his new habit.

Soon that cash windfall was gone. With no money in the bank, and nothing else to sell, he started borrowing money.

By the time the lockdown started Corey owed the banks and same-day lenders close to $20,000.

“COVID-19 has been a blessing for me, with pubs, clubs and casinos closed, I’ve been completely unable to play the pokies at all,” he said.

He’s now putting aside 80 per cent of his income to pay off his loans and feels that he has his gambling under control.

“Since the lockdown started, I created an online gambling account and put $100 into it. I lost that $100 straight away, so I haven’t put any money back into it since,” Corey said.

“I’m hoping this is the end of my eight-month gambling habit. It’s cost me so much, from my health and happiness, to pushing away friends for the sake of gambling — it’s really impacted me on every level and set me way back financially.”

The mother

For Sonia, the 58-year-old mother of a pokies addict, the lockdown has been one of the best months of her life.

“It has been a blessing for me and my son because he’s suddenly not being tricked, deceived and robbed by the poker machines,” she said.

Sonia’s son John* has twice attempted suicide in relation to his gambling addiction.

“We are both experiencing a peace we haven’t experienced for over a decade. I’m able to live each day without the constant fear that my son will try to take his life again.”

“He told me that God’s answered his prayers with the lockdown, that a heavy weight has been lifted off him and that he feels like he has been set free.”

The 28-year-old has MS and is on disability pension. Sonia says at around 2:00am on a Saturday he goes to a local Sydney pub or club knowing his pension will be in his bank account by then.

“By the time the sun comes up he’s lucky if there’s anything left in his account,” Sonia said.

Once John blows all his money, Sonia has to make the most awful choice. Does she give him more money to help him get through the week knowing he will probably put it through the pokies?

Invariably she gives in.

“People ask why I give him money. It’s because I’m scared that he might commit a crime to pay for his habit,” she said.

“You have to realise the habit overrules normal thinking. Do you know how many people are in jail because of a pokie addiction? I’m scared he could end up in jail.”

Sonia says she’s on the verge of losing her house and has borrowed tens of thousands of dollars from the banks and from family to pay for her son’s habit.

She says John has self-excluded from hundreds of venues, but they continue to let him in to gamble away his pension and his mother’s money.

Sonia says she has used the lockdown to pay back money she’s borrowed.

“In the past five weeks I haven’t had to give him money. But it’s so much more than the money, it’s the emotional roller coaster as well.”

Australia has the highest gambling losses per head of population in the world. Sonia hopes the lockdown will lead to a rethink on poker machine policy.

Over the past 25 years, she has held a number of senior positions in the manufacturing industry, and says that the absence of poker machines is not just good for the families of addicts, but for small business as well.

“Over $6.5 billion is lost to poker machines each year in NSW alone. If this money was spent in small business the economy would thrive and many jobs would be generated.”

The small businessman

Andrew runs a small business in rural Queensland.

Much of his work is done on the road, and when he drives into a new town, he finds it difficult not to pass the local pub.

“If I’m driving for work, something in me gets triggered and I will drop into the pub and start putting money through the pokies,” he said.

The businessman finds himself being drawn to something he hates.

“I can’t stand the pokies. But I started playing them 20 years ago when I was struggling with anxiety.”

Andrew suffered trauma as a child that led to anxiety in adulthood. In his late teens he started drinking, then playing the pokies, as he tried to deal with his past experiences.

“It terrifies me to think how much I have lost. Outside my food, my rent and my phone bills, I was probably putting around 60 per cent of my income through the machines.”

He says in the past month he’s felt more at ease than any other time in the past two decades.

“This isolation has been an absolute godsend. Prior to the pandemic I was still visiting pokie rooms two or three times a week, but in the past five weeks I haven’t even thought about pokie machines,” Andrew said.

“Prior to this, my anxiety levels were up and down constantly. Now, I’m so much more relaxed and less anxious.

“Today I had a beer and put $20 on the horses on my phone and I was content with that. Before I could pour $3,000 into the pokies in a couple of hours.”

Andrew is worried about what might happen when the pubs and clubs reopen.

“I do have concerns about what happens down the track, but my hope is that my time away from the pokies has given me strength and gets me to see what life is like without them.”

*Not their real names

ABC Investigations By Steve Cannane 26/4/20

AFL clubs reaped millions of dollars from poker machines last year, as pokies losses in Victorian pubs and clubs swelled to $2.7 billion – the second highest amount on record.

Just let that figure sink in for a minute – $2.7 billion in just Victoria, which equates to $7.397 million a day being lost on poker machines across the state.  That is a staggering amount of money!

Beaner

 

AFL clubs fill boots with pokies cash, as losses hit $2.7bn

Losses hit the highest level in ten years, data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulator released Friday shows, and the state’s poorest suburbs were over-represented.

The City of Brimbank – which covers St Albans, Sunshine and surrounding areas – topped the list at $143 million as the local government area with the greatest losses..

The $2.69 billion lost in the 2018/19 financial year is the second highest on record, after 2009. However it is only slightly (0.13 per cent) higher than last year, even with population growth and inflation.

The figures do not include more than 2500 machines inside Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

The data shows more than $77 million was lost in machines owned by Victorian AFL clubs during the year. Hawthorn had the greatest share making just under $24.7 million from its 165 machines at the West Waters Hotel in Caroline Springs and Vegas At Waverley Gardens, in Mulgrave.

Losses at those venues were $400,000 higher than last year.

Hawthorn, along with Carlton (which took $17.8 million at its venues), Essendon ($11.1 million), Richmond ($5.3 million) and St Kilda ($2.3 million) were all recently handed new 20-year licences to operate the machines out to 2042.

But they are coming under pressure on the controversial money makers, with all other Victorian clubs either exiting their poker machines or pledging to do so.

Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello said poker machines lead to the loss of “much more than money”.

How can the AFL possibly promote good mental health and family values when it is profiting from gambling harm?

“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives due to suicide,” said Rev Costello, from the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

“How can the AFL possibly promote good mental health and family values when it is profiting from gambling harm?”

AFL commission chairman Richard Goyder has previously said he wants clubs to reduce their dependence on the gambling revenue.

Collingwood got out this year selling its pokies venues – The Club in Melton and the Coach and Horses in Maroondah – late in calendar 2018. Those two venues took $12.9 million in losses across the full 2019 financial year.

Geelong, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have all pledged to get out of pokies, while North Melbourne has been pokies-free for a decade.

The Bulldogs took $5.8 million from Club Leeds in Footscray and the Peninsula Club in Dromana, while Geelong took $7 million from its Brook on Sneydes hotel in Point Cook, which it hopes to sell this year.

Melbourne sold its Leighoak Club early in the year, and made $2.8 million from its remaining venue, the Bentleigh Club in Glen Eira. The club will not renew it license on that club’s machines when it expires in 2022.

A spokesman for Victorian Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz said the goverment was tackling problem gambling by freezing the number of pokies across the state until 2042, capping the number of pokies in vulnerable areas and limiting EFTPOS withdrawals in venues.

The Epping Plaza Hotel was the venue in Victoria with the highest losses at $20.2 million, followed by Berwick Springs Hotel ($19.6 million), the Plough Hotel in Mill Park ($19.6 million), Kealba Hotel in Sunshine ($19.2 million), and Skyways Taverner in Airport West ($18.6 million).

The Casey, Greater Geelong , Greater Dandenong, Hume, Monash and Wyndham council areas all recorded losses of over $100 million, the VCGLR data shows.

The AFL clubs and the league were contacted for comment.

The Age – Patrick Hatch – July 26, 2019

A lot of interesting ideas in this article, and it is hopeful that the federal government’s proposed changes to sports betting advertising will have a positive impact on the next generation of young sports fans so that they aren’t indoctrinated to believe that gambling is intrinsically linked with sporting events in this country.

Beaner

 

Wide-ranging ban on gambling ads during sport broadcasts will help those with problems

The Turnbull Government is reportedly considering banning the advertising of gambling during televised sporting broadcasts.

This is not a new idea: Senator Nick Xenophon has long championed a ban, as have many who work with problem gamblers.

It has been reported that more than one-in-six ads shown during AFL matches are gambling-related.

So, could advertising be linked with rates of problem gambling?

Evidence suggests ads have an impact

Increases in problem gambling linked to sports betting have been reported in recent years, particularly among young men.

The numbers of 18-to-25-year-old men with problems related to sports betting doubled between 2012 and 2015 at the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment Clinic (where I work).

At the same time, gambling odds and prices have become a central part of sporting culture.

Campaign to dissuade young gamblers

An awareness campaign that ran during the AFL finals series, aimed to counter a rise in problem teenage gamblers.

The “gamblification” of sport is now seen as both a normal and central component of it.

In pre-game reporting, the prices and odds are seen as being as important as player injuries and weather conditions.

Being able to draw a clear line between increased promotion of gambling and rates of problem gambling is not easy.

Given there are always multiple factors why someone develops a gambling problem, it is never as clear-cut as blaming advertising.

However, some evidence exists to suggest advertising has impacts on problem gamblers.

Interview research and large-scale survey work have both suggested that gambling ads during sport strongly affect many problem gamblers by increasing their desire to gamble when trying to cut down.

Therefore, restrictions on advertising may be effective in helping those with problems to manage their urges to gamble.

Another widespread concern about gambling advertising during sports broadcasts is the impact it might be having on young people.

There is evidence this advertising can have an impact.

A study of Canadian adolescents found the majority had been exposed to gambling advertising.

It also found this advertising was leading to the belief that the chance of winning was high, and that gambling was an easy way to make money.

These findings are particularly concerning. In our work with problem gamblers, we have found these beliefs are crucial to the development of gambling problems.

Typically, when examining a problem gambler’s history, we find they were exposed to gambling at a young age and developed positive attitudes toward gambling at the time.

In particular, a distorted belief in the likelihood of winning appears to be a key driver in many of our patients who developed problems.

Thus, advertising that promotes the idea that gambling is an easy way to make money is likely to prime our kids for developing gambling problems in the future.

What we can learn from tobacco ad bans

Would a ban on the advertising of gambling during sport broadcasts change attitudes toward gambling and gambling behaviour?

Here, evidence on the impacts of tobacco advertising is instructive.

Tobacco advertising has been progressively restricted or banned in many countries. Thus, considerable evidence is available to make conclusions.

There appears to be clear evidence that tobacco advertising does result in increased rates of smoking in adolescents.

It has also been found that bans on tobacco advertising appear to be effective in reducing tobacco use — but only in the case of complete bans.

In contrast, attempts to limit bans on advertising to certain mediums — such as banning ads on TV — appear not to be effective, as this simply results in increases in tobacco advertising in non-banned media (in print or on billboards, for instance).

This suggests that for any restriction of gambling advertising to be effective, it needs to be widespread.

Such displacement has already been seen with gambling. There is evidence of increased social media promotion of gambling, which has resulted in increases in positive attitudes toward gambling in those exposed to these promotions.

There is not yet any demonstrated definitive link between increases in gambling advertising during sports and problem gambling.

However, the research that has been conducted indicates that advertising may result in increased gambling by problem gamblers and increases in distorted beliefs about gambling in young people.

If the Government chooses to go down the path of increasing restrictions on gambling advertising, it is important that any restrictions are wide-ranging enough to have a clear impact on gambling behaviours and attitudes.

Support is available through the Gambler’s Help website gamblershelp.com.au or by calling the free Gambling Help Line on 1800 858 858.

Dr Christopher Hunt is a clinical psychologist working at the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology. He has worked at the University’s Gambling Treatment Clinic since 2007.

Originally published in The Conversation

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-17/why-all-gambling-ads-should-be-banned-during-sporting-matches/8363232

In a move that probably doesn’t go far enough, the federal government has instigated a policy so that no gambling ads will be allowed before 8:30pm on Australian TV.  I personally feel gambling advertising is a blight on the enjoyment of sport, especially when commercial TV and radio sell out to the sports betting agencies, as the AFL has done, to line their pockets at the expense of problem gamblers.  Listening to 3MMM makes me feel ill with their sponsors seemingly more important than the games they are supposed to be covering.  Maybe one day our kids will be able to just enjoy being sports fans without constantly being bombarded with odds and deals and specials as well.

Beaner

 

Gambling advertising to be banned during live sporting events

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed the Government will ban gambling advertising before 8.30pm during live sporting events, and for five minutes before and after the start of play.

ABC News revealed last month that the plan had been taken to Cabinet.

It faced a backlash from the executives of some of the nation’s biggest sporting codes, who argued restricting gambling advertising would slash the value of the television rights their codes attract.

But speaking in the United States before his flight back to Australia on Saturday morning, Mr Turnbull said the plan would go ahead.

“Parents around Australia will be delighted when they know that during football matches, and cricket matches, live sporting events before 8:30pm, there will be no more gambling ads,” he said.

“There are no gambling ads allowed before 8:30pm generally, but there’s been an exception for a long time, of live sporting events.”

Mr Turnbull said the ban would not apply to racing.

Executives from the AFL and NRL had been lobbying Communications Minister Mitch Fifield to scrap the plans.

ABC News had also been told Cricket Australia was pushing against the change.

After 8:30pm, the status quo will remain.

“The gambling companies have actually been at the forefront of calling for just these types of restrictions,” Senator Fifield said.

“The Responsible Wagering Council have been urging the Government to look at this area because they recognise that there’s a need for change.”

Ban a ‘good, big first step’: Xenophon

The gambling policy could help secure Senate crossbench support for other media reforms dealing with ownership and reach restrictions.

Senator Nick Xenophon has long campaigned for restrictions to gambling advertising, and commands three votes in the Upper House.

He described the announcement as a “good, big first step”, but said he wanted further protections put in place to force regional broadcasters to produce local content as part of any broader media shakeup.

The Greens seemed unlikely to support the measures, while Labor maintained it needed to see the detail.

“We do want to see a diversity of voices available in the Australian media environment,” Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said.

“We need to see the details of what the Government is proposing, what we frequently see is that Malcolm Turnbull delivers less than people expect.”

The Coalition has also proposed changes to the “anti-siphoning list” which makes sure certain sports are broadcast on free-to-air networks, giving pay television a better chance of bidding for major events.

Government ‘scraps licence fees’ to fund lost ad revenue

The nation’s free-to-air television networks had also raised concerns it would eat into their advertising revenue, and demanded their Commonwealth licence fees be cut to fund the losses.

Networks pay about $130 million per year for their broadcast licences.

Under the new model, that would be replaced by what is called a “spectrum charge” of about $40 million.

“In the last budget I cut free-to-air licence fees by 25 per cent, my predecessors have also cut licence fees,” Senator Fifield said.

“So it’s been something that both sides of politics have recognised that the licence fees are something that are really from a bygone era.

“What we have done is taken the opportunity to not only provide a shot in the arm for free-to-air broadcasters, but we have taken this opportunity to provide a community dividend in the form of further gambling advertising restrictions.”

Free TV Australia said it was a “tremendous” package that had been agreed to by the industry.

“There’s nowhere else in the world that licence fees are charged like this, it was a complete anomaly,” chairman Harold Mitchell said.

Australia’s third largest network, Network Ten, had been hoping for a cut in its licence fees as it battles to survive in the tough television advertising market.

“The Government’s package provides very welcome, immediate financial relief for all commercial free-to-air television broadcasters,” Network Ten chief executive Paul Anderson said.

“It provides a boost for local content and the local production sector.

“Recent financial results and announcements from across the Australian media industry clearly demonstrate that this is a sector under extreme competitive pressure from the foreign-owned tech media giants.

“This package is not just about Ten or free-to-air television. It is about ensuring that there is a future for Australian media companies.”

By political reporter Matthew Doran, Updated 6 May 2017

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-17/why-all-gambling-ads-should-be-banned-during-sporting-matches/8363232

From the Age, July 15 2016

by Greg Baum

When Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie announced their mission to loosen the nexus between gambling and sport in Australia on Thursday, it was not hard to imagine that in the offices of some corporate bookies, the first thing they did was to frame a market on the likelihood of the politicians’ success, complete with cash-back options and bonus bets.

The next thing would have been to commission an advertising campaign featuring a bar and a couple of dorky young men frothing at their mouths while stroking their unshaven chins – quite dextrous, really – and two young women in the background, bestowing on them a patronising roll of their eyes.

“This is the gift horse everyone makes sure keeps its mouth shut.” Illustration: Jim Pavlidis.

It used to be said that Australians would bet on two flies crawling up a wall. It was an innocent enough image, implying friendly competition between mates at the manageable level of whatever they had in their pockets at the time, even if it did gloss over the certainty that one of them would always pick the wrong fly, yet refuse to give up, convince himself that the next fly on the other wall was a dead-set cert and be wrong again, with consequences no one much talked about then.

Now the cliche would be that Australians would bet on any two of thousands of contingencies arising out of happenings – not always sport – anywhere in the world, offered to them by a corporate bookie and outlaid and – sometimes – redeemed at the push of a smartphone button, no longer limited to loose change and ready cash, nor even by state or international borders, not restricted at all. Merry-making mates and the girls who so generously indulge them don’t come into it, no matter what the ads say.

The punt has become institutionalised, a miserable process. Australians used to be sceptical about institutions. Now we wear their T-shirts.

I can’t remember an election campaign like the most recent in the way the bookies’ markets were reported and dwelled upon about as prominently as the polls. The usual justification was that polls were not reliable, but the bookies rarely got it wrong. But they did this time.

Where does that leave us? Here, that the gambling industry has infiltrated every part of Australian life and become a massive force in it. Expect at the next election to hear Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – if it is still him – declare not that he is confident of victory, but that he sees himself as a $1.05 chance.

We’ll confine ourselves here to sport. There, it is a matter of following the money. If you bet on sport, some part of your wager goes to a television network in the form of advertising revenue, then on to a sporting body as vast rights fees. If you play the pokies at a club venue, the profits go directly to the club and form a major and growing part of their incomes (but not at North Melbourne). Downstream, this leads to social dysfunction estimated by some to be as endemic as the legacy of alcohol abuse.

But this is the gift horse everyone makes sure keeps its mouth shut.

Sports bodies make vague noises about social commitment and their dedication to developing other forms of income, all the while collecting more and more of this guaranteed jackpot. Just this week, it emerged that Collingwood had promised renovations to a pokies pub it owns in Ringwood, but only if it was allowed to install 10 more machines. Bookies are no better: they preach responsible gambling, but pay fast-moving lip service to it in almost comical disclaimers at the end of ads, small print in smaller voices.

The least but most obvious effect of all this calculated conditioning is to the amenity of the sports fan. Whether on television or at the ground, the bookies and their spiel are in your face: in ads, on an expert panel, on the scoreboard, in the call. Briefly, even the industry realised that they were giving people the irrits, and pulled their heads in, but only a little. This is where Xenophon and Wilkie would like to start, by reducing or even banning gambling advertising during sports broadcasts and at venues.

They know the power of the medium, for good and evil. That power was central to successful crusades on smoking and the road toll.

Just this week, it was announced that the AIDS epidemic in Australia was over. That fight began with a spectacularly memorable public education campaign more than 20 years ago. If messaging makes this sort of impact, then so must its absence. The Australian Wagering Council knows this. Its defence of the status quo is that betting advertising can be a force for good, directing punters to Australian providers rather than those nasty off-shore outfits.

Political will is negligible. In the election campaign, gambling reform was a non-issue, not mentioned by Labor or the Coalition and rarely even by the Greens, who have the most stringent policy.

The many schisms in the new Parliament offer hope for Xenophon and Wilkie, but only if one of the major parties warms to their objective, which seems unlikely. Otherwise, they might as well try fence in the industry with fly swats. They won’t surrender, but the bookies would say that you can have $10 the pollies, with the margin set at 80 points of order.

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/gambling-reform-dont-bet-on-it-20160715-gq6rxh.html