Monday, 2 November 2009

Woolworths' Care Less Response

Woolworths' Board of Directors responded to their own shareholders call for reform to their pokie practices. It is a truly frightening show of these people's lack of human care for the harm their business causes. Rather than even attempting to embrace reform, Chairman Strong's words seek to demean the concern and trivialize the damage of Woolworths' enormous pokie gambling empire.
Click on the image below to read Woolworths' response:Chairman Strong's spruick that they work hard to ensure that their venues "operate to the highest standards" is no more than a statement of unfulfilled intention. They don't even meet their own standards on such trivial matters as complying with CEO Luscombe's claim that:
"On all of our gaming machines there are signs talking about the fact that you cannot win on those machines, right in front of the face of that area"
There are no such signs in South Australia, New South Wales nor in the Queensland pokie pubs I've been to operated by Woolworths. On some occasions signs are "right in front of the face.." On many other occasions, they are not.

Chairman Strong's characterisation of pokie gambling having only a potential to cause harm to a small minority of people misrepresents the enormous number of people who are actually affected. Here's the facts coming from Victoria's Department of Justice September 2009 Epidemiological Study where 15,000 Victorians were surveyed. Applying their findings to the Victorian adult population you get the result of
  • 29,212 problem gamblers
  • 98,486 moderate risk gamblers
  • 91.04% of problem gamblers participate in pokies
  • 77.24 of the moderate risk gamblers participate in pokies.
This is a lot of people.

At $902,318,920, Woolworths/Mathieson associated venues are responsible for 33% of Victoria's total pokie losses (even tho' they operate less than 25% of the pokies). This is an enormous amount of losses.

How can Chairman Strong claim anything about "highest standards" when they refuse to comply with the "lowest common denominator of measures". Incredibly, Woolworths' refuse to even commit to an intention to comply with the statement of National Principles for the conduct of responsible gaming machine activity in clubs and hotels. These principles were agreed to by the Federal Minister and all State Ministers. The Principles are so undemanding that they were recently characterised by the hard nosed economists of the Productivity Commission as being evident of "the lowest common denominator of measures".

Intentions are disclosed by action. Here's a half page colour advertisement that appeared in yesterday's Sunday Herald Sun.Woolworths doing nothing to reduce let alone eliminate child exposure to pokie gambling. Quite the opposite. They continue to actively market to lure children into their associated pokie pubs and clubs.

It would seem that Chairman Strong and Woolworths board of directors care less (in more than one sense) about their conduct of Australia's largest pokie gambling business.

No comments: