Australia leads the world in gambling losses

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Dr Charles Livingstone of the Gambling and Social Determinants Unit at Monash University has shown that Australia leads the world in gambling losses.

The report from the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR), released in October, showed that people had lost more than $11.4 billion to poker machines in pubs and clubs across five states last year.

The annual loss of $11.4 billion in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania is the equivalent to a loss of $658 for every adult resident of those States. This makes Australia, per person, the world’s biggest loser to poker machines.

The losses do not look to be slowing down: total losses are estimated to be more than $13 billion next year.

The new figures also show that in the 30 years to 2019 (the latest available figures) poker machine losses amounted to a staggering $308.4 billion.

If governments needed a reason to intervene and stop greedy multinational companies from preying on people, findings from royal commissions into Crown Victoria and the Perth Casino, as well as other inquiries into casinos and their operations, should be enough.

They all state that those in charge are stealing from the vulnerable, and engaging in “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” conduct, underpaying casino taxes, as well as breaching laws.

AGR wants a national gambling harm regulator to be set up to reduce the number of poker machines and fast-track harm minimisation measures.

Its spokesperson Tim Costello said: “At the moment there is no coordination and no will to act.”

However, under pressure the Tasmanian government has decided to introduce mandatory pre-commitment and cashless gambling cards. The Northern Territory government has decided on a nine-month moratorium on new poker machine licences in central Australia and a national parliamentary inquiry into online gambling has been launched. 

Arie Huybregts, Broadmeadows candidate for Socialist Alliance in the Victorian elections told Green Left that these reforms will do little to stem the flow of cash to the greedy casinos unless more significant action is taken.

Crown Casino has gotten away with “not paying gambling tax for nine years”, Huybregts said. “It has only recently been forced to cough up a miniscule $61 million.

“The damage done to children, families and working people by gambling is horrific and includes low self-esteem, poor relationships, poor physical and mental health. This all has an impact on work performance and social life.”

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs is seeking written submissions for its inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on people with gambling problems by November 11.

[More information about the enquiry and submission can be made here.]

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